Tim Cahill | 2006 World Cup, leaving Everton and playing in America, China and India | CV Stories

Tim Cahill | 2006 World Cup, leaving Everton and playing in America, China and India | CV Stories


The goal, first ever goal for Australia in a World Cup, at the time I didn’t know that that was the case, but that’s another stage, that’s another moment. I knew coming off the bench that, you look the night before at the analysis, you learn about the centre-backs, you know who the left-back is, you know who the right-back is, you know who’s weaker. I knew everything about Japan. I knew set-plays, where I was going to run. I knew the detail about individuals. And I think for me, that game will always be so special because if you win it sets up the tournament, if you lose, and we were 1-0 down, then knowing you’re playing Brazil and Croatia, you’re up against it, and Japan was the most winnable game of that group. So I’d scored a goal, opportunistic, went through the legs, but the second one that were hit off both posts, I don’t shoot from outside the 18-yard box often and when I hit it, it was just momentum, it was just feeling, it was instinct, and it caught the keeper cold. And that was the start of the journey of a World Cup for me in Australia. Against Croatia, it had everything in it. The way that we conceded the goal, it was so soft. Then having to chase the game. We actually had Australian-Croatians playing on the other team: Simunic. We had part Croatian players playing in our team. We have a big Croatian population in Australia. So it was all fused into passion, the fans were buzzing. But I think it was just the emotions of what it meant for both teams, and for us, we needed a result, and we knew we could do it. We had Mark Schwarzer who was playing most of the games, and Guus Hiddink decided to start Zeljko Kalac. I don’t know whether it was the mindset because he has a Croatian background. And when we had scored late on, the celebrations, we knew that… 35 years not qualifying for a World Cup since our last one to going through the group stages is unheard of. But the players that we had, the characters – we all played in some of the biggest leagues in the world. We knew we had that opportunity to do something special. I think at the time it was hot, they had 10 men, I think we had a lot of momentum in that game. Guus Hiddink was dithering with making a sub. He delayed it, whether that was something tactically that was a smart thing or an adverse thing, but lady luck wasn’t on our side, you know from the penalty. When you look at the situation, 50% will say it’s a penalty, 50% will say it’s not a penalty. When I look at the game, the sub was a big moment that possibly could have happened to take us with fresher legs and to try and attack. But we were going into extra-time after that with the advantage. So it’s just what could have been. But for me, I’ve never looked back. It was meant to be and they went on to win the World Cup. And I know that we had an opportunity there that could have been really special but I suppose that lady luck wasn’t with us. We lost to the winners. But at the same time, you have all these cycles as a player and playing for 23 years, the emotions that you go through, you look at it now and sitting here I just look at it now and I just look at the situations with not as much emotion as at the time and I just think it wasn’t meant to be. Whereas at the time I was upset, I was distraught and thinking what could have been, but it wasn’t meant to be. To leave Everton, it was the hardest thing I’d ever done as a footballer. At the same time, you’ve got to know when the right time is, you’ve got to understand your body. And one thing that was really important to me was my family, my health, and also playing for Australia. If I’d stayed at Everton much longer, I had over 500 games under my belt at 32, that’s without international games. I had aspirations of playing in more World Cups and more Asia Cups. Everton had a level that you had to keep at within games and standards of how far you’d run, the high intensity and I could see that, with international work and club work, that it was impossible, and mathematically it couldn’t work that I could keep the levels. I moved to New York, and it was a fresh start for my family. New York Red Bulls, great place to live, MLS, amazing. Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Juninho Pernambucano. And it also allowed me to take less stress on the body, but then also they knew that I wanted to continue with Australia. And it was a no-brainer. And so really when I look at it, I learned about the commercial world, the business world, and I was like: “Wow.” It was like my career was just starting all over again with those sorts of moves. And then it was easy. It was easy, it was fun, it was rejuvenating. It was sad to leave Everton but then at the same time, Everton will always kick on and do well and it was hard to say goodbye to David Moyes and the family there. I think when I made the tactical decision to go to different countries around the world, I looked at the platform of playing for the national team, being in the Asian group, going to China, going to India, going back to Australia. Different languages, different emotions, different attitudes. It was more a development league. It was more about helping, using my leadership roles and being a passive coach within that group which taught me a hell of a lot because I could lean on the managers who were there in those countries and also help implement things that I thought that would help us move up the league when we were in China, Shanghai Shenhua, to get to another final, Chinese Cup, massive cup that we lost in the end unfortunately. Things that they thought couldn’t happen. In India, the professionalism, the levels of what’s expected, and also going back to Melbourne. Being a part of winning their first ever trophy in the FFA Cup and the aspirations that that club had with the big backers behind them. So I was always passively a coach, I was tactically within this set-up thinking about the mindset that maybe one day I want to be a coach, maybe, not 100%. And now, going into retirement, it has taken plenty of processes to sit where I am today, to talk about the potential to want to cross the line and step over. And I’m loving it. But I’m loving it because I’m starting in an academy. I’m starting putting out the cones, moving the goals, session planning, six, eight hour days, but blocking it in two, three-week periods that I’ll block full work at Everton with the academy and then take two weeks off to think and take a breath and then see whether I miss it, see whether I need it and then go back into work and now complete my A-License. So I think I have the ingredients, but as a coach, I just listen, and I educate myself with people that are much better than me, and surround myself with people that know a lot more than me when it comes to that line of work.

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