Tim Cahill: a God amongst men

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On the evening of Monday 23rd July, Everton Football Club confirmed a circulating rumour that had been met with a general feeling of shock and horror by not just Evertonians, but many fans of English football. The Blues confirmed that their long-serving Australian, the passionate Tim Cahill, was to depart to MLS side New York Red Bulls for a ‘nominal’ fee, subject to personal terms and a medical. Rumoured to be £1m, Cahill’s transfer value seems questionable, despite the fact that other 32 year-olds who lose their guaranteed starting place in a Premier League team, have hardly any time left on their contract and decline in performances cannot be worth much more.

It is a sad fact that he has become older, uncharacteristic in stages, inconsistent and has spent time warming the bench at Goodison Park of late; however he represents passion, hard work and everything that Evertonians expect from a player at their club.

Many would say his sentimental value is priceless due to the various attributes he holds to his name; whether it be his trademark boxing celebration at the innocent corner flags, his 5 derby goals against rivals Liverpool (the most since Dixie Dean), or the numerous significant goals he scored for the club he loved, it is no surprise that Everton fans wish him all the best in New York, however they will inevitably feel an unbridgeable gap created by his absence.

In 1997, Cahill, with the permission of his parents, travelled to England to play professionally. Millwall Football Club signed the Australian on a free transfer from Sydney United, and he made his debut for the club he would later lead to an F.A Cup final and UEFA Cup place on 22nd May 1998. He scored 56 goals for the London club before making his move to Everton in 2004 for £1.5m as David Moyes’ second signing of the summer; what many would, and still call, a bargain.

His stint at Goodison Park lasted 8 years, and despite the loss of form in his final two seasons that saw Cahill hit a drought of goals that would last around a calendar year, he is positively remembered for his countless heroic moments. The 2004/05 season saw the Australian win the Player of the Season award, finish as top scorer and score the goal against Newcastle which sent the club into the Champions League, finishing 4th.

The list of memorable moments and traits is satisfyingly long: being 5 foot 10 and one of the best headers of the ball the world has seen, being one of fifty to be nominated for the Ballon D’Or in October 2006, scoring an unforgettable overhead kick against Chelsea, those goals against both Manchester United and Manchester City, famously (or infamously, in some cases) pointing and laughing at The Kop and ‘saluting’ on top of a pile in which Everton beat Liverpool 1-0, courtesy of a Lee Carsley goal.

Such moments are countless, and would take up pages and pages of this blog; all you have to know, if you didn’t already, is that every game Cahill played in is in fact a memorable moment due to his consistent commitment and emotional passion.

In those 8 years at Everton, Cahill scored 68 goals, making 278 appearances. Alongside his club career, he has also, internationally, made an even bigger name for himself, scoring 24 times with 55 caps to his name. He has been through thick and thin with Everton, from qualifying for the Champions League to being sent off on various occasions. In New York, he may not appear to be such a significant signing at this moment in time; nevertheless, Red Bulls’ supporters are soon to find out exactly why the little Australian is one of football’s biggest legends.

On the competitive football field, Tim Cahill’s last act in an Everton shirt was being sent off, against Newcastle in May, for confronting Yohan Cabaye in defence of a young fan and ball boy (who the Magpies’ midfielder had pushed in attempt to regain the football quicker). It is hardly the classiest way to end your career at the club you love; however, Evertonians could not ask for a more fitting ending to Cahill’s tale at Goodison Park as for one final time, this heroic, memorable and inspirational man could display his passion and pure affection for the Royal Blue of Everton Football Club.

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