One-on-one: Tim Cahill talks Soc­ceroos, boxing and Big Dunc


FourFourTwo - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view Chris Flana­gan Pho­tog­ra­phy Will Dou­glas

Four­fourtwo have handed Tim Cahill a pair of boxing gloves – but we’ve un­wit­tingly com­mit­ted a faux pas.

“Red? That’s Liver­pool!” says the for­mer Ever­ton man, tongue in cheek. De­spite the colour – and no cor­ner flag to vic­timise – he dons the gloves and starts punch­ing away in front of the FFT cam­eras, re­cre­at­ing the goal cel­e­bra­tion that’s been his trade­mark.

It’s some­thing we’ve seen at three World Cups. Aus­tralia’s great­est ever player has scored five goals at the tour­na­ment (two more than Cris­tiano Ron­aldo). And, aged 38, he re­cently re­turned to Eng­land with his old club, Mill­wall, be­cause he’s de­ter­mined to earn a place in the Soc­ceroos’ squad for Rus­sia 2018. Only Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose have scored at four World Cups; Cahill wants to join them and get shadow-boxing on foot­ball’s big­gest stage at least one more time.

“Once more would be price­less,” he tells FFT. “That’s the mo­ti­va­tion. It is a mas­sive record that may be on the hori­zon, and I’m do­ing ev­ery­thing in my power to be ready for se­lec­tion at a fourth World Cup.”

Score in Rus­sia and he’d add a new chap­ter to an al­ready notable ca­reer – a ca­reer he’s happy to re­call with FFT... Grow­ing up in a fam­ily with so many links to rugby, how dif­fi­cult was the de­ci­sion to play foot­ball in­stead? Ju­nior Leoes, via Face­book It was easy for me be­cause I didn’t have the physique. I’d play in the back gar­den with my broth­ers and cousins, and I was al­ways the one com­ing in cry­ing be­cause they were too big! But I’m a big fan of rugby – both union and league.

Did your par­ents re­ally take out a $10,000 loan so that you could move to Eng­land as a teenager? Rob­bie Payne, via Face­book It wasn’t ex­actly $10,000 but yeah, they got a loan to buy my flight to trial for Mill­wall. They made a huge sac­ri­fice for me and it’s some­thing I’ll never for­get. Mill­wall of­fered me a deal in the Sec­ond Di­vi­sion [third tier] and I jumped at the chance.

Neigh­bours or Home and Away? Ryan Dyer, via Twit­ter Oh, wow... [Pauses] Neigh­bours. I’ve had a few crushes in Neigh­bours, that’s why – too many to men­tion! I tended to watch Neigh­bours and Home and Away more be­cause I was liv­ing away from Aus­tralia, ac­tu­ally.

Play­ing with Sean Dy­che at Mill­wall, did you ever see him eat a worm? Bradley Glover, Birken­head Let me tell you a thing about Dy­chey: if he ate a worm, it would have been for a good cause – a self­less act on be­half of the team... not to say that I think he would eat a worm! Even as a player, he left no stone un­turned. I’m lucky that I had the time play­ing with him and learn­ing from him. We got pro­moted from the Sec­ond Di­vi­sion with an amaz­ing squad with a lot of heart.

Is it true that Mick Mccarthy gave you the chance to play for the Repub­lic of Ire­land at the 2002 World Cup, due to your Ir­ish grand­par­ent? Stuart Steel­yard, via Face­book There was an en­quiry, but I was born in Aus­tralia. I know the na­tional an­them and I re­ally be­lieve that if you play for a coun­try, then you have to know the na­tional an­them. I was re­ally pleased to be asked, but I’m Aus­tralian. I have an English pass­port, too, but back then I wasn’t good enough – I was learn­ing my trade at Mill­wall. I didn’t play for Aus­tralia un­til I was 24 be­cause I had played in a com­pe­ti­tion for Samoa when I was younger and couldn’t get cleared to play. But com­mon sense pre­vailed and I fi­nally got cleared.

You did the ‘twirling the shirt around the head a la Ryan Giggs’ cel­e­bra­tion when you scored Mill­wall’s FA Cup semi-fi­nal win­ner against Sun­der­land in 2004. Was there any rea­son for it? Nathan Brady, Lon­don That just hap­pened by chance – it was ela­tion. I ran the length of the pitch like For­rest Gump! It was amaz­ing to score that goal, and it’s a big part of Mill­wall’s his­tory – Den­nis Wise and Ray Wilkins drove us to do some­thing spe­cial. We played Manch­ester United in the fi­nal

and they were un­be­liev­able – they had Roy Keane, Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Ruud van Nis­tel­rooy in their side and I was so blessed to have that part of my ca­reer as a Mill­wall player, as who knew what was go­ing to be next for me af­ter that?

How did the move to Ever­ton hap­pen? Jess Miller, via Face­book There was a lot of in­ter­est. I re­mem­ber that when I met David Moyes and Bill Ken­wright, they said: “We can’t guar­an­tee you’ll be play­ing, but we know you can score goals, we know you are danger­ous and we know you’ve got an en­gine.” I said: “Look, all I need you to tell me is that you’re go­ing to give me a chance, and af­ter that, I will prove my­self to you.” That was it – sim­ple. I am thank­ful to Ever­ton. I still speak to David and Bill of­ten.

You got your first Ever­ton goal away at Manch­ester City, only to be sent off for putting your shirt over your head to cel­e­brate. What did you think when Sepp Blat­ter pub­licly stuck up for you? Michael Gil­bert, via Face­book I didn’t know that he stuck up for me. Cheers, Sepp! If I’d known that, I’d have asked him to re­scind it! But it was an im­por­tant goal, so I wouldn’t take that away for the world. It was pure emo­tion – my first goal in the Pre­mier League and first of many.

How im­por­tant was David Moyes to your ca­reer? As a Mill­wall player, do you want his West Ham team to fail? Pete Holland, Es­sex Let’s not talk about West Ham... but I al­ways want him to do well. He was a mas­sive in­flu­ence on my ca­reer. He’s like a fa­ther fig­ure to me in the foot­ball world – some­one I al­ways call on for all of the big de­ci­sions. He be­lieved in me from day one, and I felt in­debted to work for him. What he did for Ever­ton goes be­yond be­ing a great coach: they miss his au­then­tic­ity and how much he re­ally loved the club. I al­ways say that you’ve got to be care­ful what you wish for when you want money and change, as you lose a lit­tle bit of the au­then­tic­ity. And I love him just as much for the way he took care of his play­ers off the park.

Have you for­given Pier­luigi Collina yet for dis­al­low­ing Ever­ton’s would-be equaliser against Vil­lar­real in 2005 Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fy­ing? Rob Hyde, Liver­pool It wasn’t meant to be. We were hard done by, but it was such a great ex­pe­ri­ence. When you look back on it now, you think, ‘Wow – to reach the Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fy­ing stages was a big achieve­ment’. We sold Wayne Rooney, signed Tim Cahill and Marcus Bent, and fin­ished in the top four.

Dun­can Ferguson vs Kevin Mus­cat: who wins? James Fred­er­icks, via Face­book I love them both, but Fergie’s on a dif­fer­ent level! You’d want Kevin in your team, but Dun­can was a player who I looked at and thought, ‘I will go to war with you any day of the week’. He helped me to get a lot of goals be­cause he took a lot of at­ten­tion on the pitch. I saw a few head­locks he had with play­ers and I was al­ways there to back him up... but just back him up – he was al­ways front line! Against Liver­pool he would try to cre­ate havoc. His vic­tim? Prob­a­bly Sami Hyypia, but who wasn’t his vic­tim? They knew to keep their dis­tance. He never re­ally started any­thing – he just fin­ished it.

What are your favourite Mersey­side derby mem­o­ries? Izzy Booth, via Face­book Win­ning 3-0, and Lee Cars­ley scor­ing a win­ner and me pil­ing on top! I loved the der­bies and pas­sion of the fans. I was lucky enough to score five goals against Liver­pool. I love the big games.

Tim, can you ex­plain your ‘punch­ing the cor­ner flag’ goal cel­e­bra­tion? Youseftweetzz, via Twit­ter It started with a kung-fu cel­e­bra­tion that I helped to chore­o­graph for one

of my Aus­tralia team-mates, Archie Thomp­son, be­cause we played those games on the com­puter. He had his baby boy and scored, I had my baby boy and scored – my cel­e­bra­tion was only a bit of fun and it just seemed to grow and grow. Kids love it and it’s stuck, and I’m proud of it. [FFT: In one game against Cen­tral Coast Mariners in Aus­tralia, a ball­boy moved the cor­ner flag so you couldn’t punch it…] It was awe­some! The club knew I was go­ing to score, so be­fore the game they told all of their ball­boys to move the cor­ner flag away. That’s a huge com­pli­ment, and I thank them for pre­par­ing for me to bang a goal in against them!

How did it feel to score Aus­tralia’s first ever World Cup goal, against Ja­pan in 2006, and then fol­low it up with the Soc­ceroos’ first World Cup win­ner five min­utes later? Mor­gan Wright, via Face­book I came off the bench in that game and it’s some­thing that will be with me and Aus­tralians for­ever. At the time I didn’t know I was the first, but af­ter­wards, and now, I know how big it was and what it meant to ev­ery­one. How did you feel af­ter go­ing out to a stop­page-time penalty against Italy at the 2006 World Cup? Was it un­fair? Ron­ney Del­la­mare Jr, via Face­book I felt fine, be­cause it wasn’t meant to be. You’re up­set, but you’re also proud of what you have achieved. The ic­ing on the cake was that Italy went on to win the World Cup, and we had come close to tak­ing them to the wire. It was pretty soft – it looked like [Fabio] Grosso went down re­ally eas­ily – but we just had to suf­fer it.

In 2006 you were nom­i­nated for the Bal­lon d’or – did you think you had a chance of win­ning it? Ma­son Ge­orge, Perth No, no chance at all, but it was great to be an Aussie and nom­i­nated. It’s a big hon­our to be recog­nised as a foot­baller with the elite. [FFT: Did you get in­ter­est from other clubs around that time?] Oh, ev­ery year. If you’re bang­ing in 10 goals a sea­son and do­ing well in World Cups, there are al­ways clubs in­ter­ested. But I was al­ways very fo­cused on Ever­ton. Sure, you will al­ways look over your shoul­der, but you’ve got to ask your­self what you want from your ca­reer. You can sign for big­ger clubs, but are you go­ing to play and how is it go­ing to af­fect your over­all ca­reer?

Did you think Ever­ton were go­ing to win the FA Cup in 2009, when Louis Saha scored af­ter 25 sec­onds? Adam Ferguson, via Twit­ter I felt we had a huge op­por­tu­nity. It was some­thing the club needed. We died at the fi­nal hur­dle – Chelsea made some subs, and the subs were prob­a­bly worth about £50 mil­lion. We faded a lit­tle bit, but it was an amaz­ing run to the fi­nal.

Was be­ing sent off for foul­ing Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger at the 2010 World Cup the hard­est mo­ment of your ca­reer? Amelia Den­ning, via Face­book No – if any­thing now it’s up there with the high­lights. The im­por­tant thing for me was re­act­ing in the right man­ner. Kids are watch­ing – take it on the chin, whether or not you think it’s a red card. I missed the game against Ghana but then came back to score against Ser­bia. Af­ter the Ger­many game I went over to Sch­we­in­steiger and he shook my hand. I look at that World Cup as: I scored for my coun­try and had a very good time. How have you al­ways been so good in the air when you’re only 5ft 10in? Rob Mcgrath, via Twit­ter It’s about train­ing – ex­plo­sive work in the gym – but also de­sire. They do tests in the gym to see how high you can jump, but if there’s no ball there and noth­ing at the end of it, I won’t jump as high. I’ve been for­tu­nate to have the knack for my whole ca­reer. It’s still one of my strong­est points.

Was leav­ing Ever­ton the tough­est thing you have ever had to do? Sally Burns, Widnes Yes and no, be­cause I was 32 at the time and made a big de­ci­sion to join MLS, play in New York and join a team with some un­be­liev­able play­ers, such as Thierry Henry and Rafa Mar­quez. It was the right move be­cause it al­lowed me to con­tinue play­ing in­ter­na­tional foot­ball, which was im­por­tant to me. Re­gard­less of whether Ever­ton wanted to sell me to another Pre­mier League club in­stead of MLS, as they would’ve got more money, I told them I wasn’t go­ing to another Pre­mier League club – I wanted to play else­where. But the gaffer was good about it, Bill Ken­wright was a gen­tle­man and the fans were good. A few play­ers were shocked as I hadn’t told any­one – it was done so


quickly and qui­etly, be­cause that’s the way I like to do busi­ness. I re­mem­ber go­ing into the treat­ment room and Joleon Lescott, Tony Hib­bert and Leon Os­man were there. I told them: “I’m off.” They said: “What? Where are you go­ing?” I said: “New York – it’s be­ing an­nounced in an hour.” They were like, “What?!” I think Jags [Phil Jagielka] turned around and half-slapped me. He said: “Noth­ing ceases to amaze me about de­ci­sions with you!” be­cause one week I was play­ing and the next week I was off to play in MLS. But I wanted to go and ex­pe­ri­ence a new ad­ven­ture.

Ex­actly how show­biz was it play­ing for New York Red Bulls? Alex Headley, via Face­book There were al­ways things go­ing on. We launched FIFA with Drake on stage and Snoop Dogg – you go through some of the pho­tos and have to pinch your­self. When they throw an event, they go big. That’s why they get all the star play­ers such as Steven Ger­rard, David Beck­ham, Thierry Henry and Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic; they get the big dogs be­cause they can back it up. You’re will­ing to go out there and take a pay cut be­cause the lifestyle is so good. I loved my time with them, and New Jer­sey is still our fam­ily base.

Was the bril­liant vol­ley against the Nether­lands at the 2014 World Cup the best goal of your ca­reer? Owen Walker, via Face­book Yeah, that one’s up there, for dif­fi­culty and also for the way it went in. I have al­ways been a strong be­liever in just tak­ing a chance. I know that I’m ei­ther go­ing to hit the back of the net or Row Z, and men­tally it doesn’t re­ally bother me if it hits Row Z as I will do it again – I’ll look for another mo­ment to make some­body say, ‘Wow’. I can’t ex­plain how it felt to score that goal – it was like an out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ence. All you can do to un­der­stand how much it meant to me is watch it and see me go­ing crazy dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tions!

Peo­ple like to sug­gest that there’s a fi­nan­cial el­e­ment at play when foot­ballers move to clubs in China. Was that a fac­tor for you? John Bu­ley, Tas­ma­nia It didn’t mat­ter what they said about me go­ing to China – I was 35, I’d just

won the Asian Cup with Aus­tralia and I signed for one of the big­gest clubs in China. It wasn’t as if I was go­ing there at 30, like some play­ers do. It was the per­fect move for me and my fam­ily – it was an amaz­ing of­fer and we had an amaz­ing time. I scored goals and played with some top play­ers: Momo Sis­soko, Demba Ba, Gio Moreno, Fredy Guarin, Obafemi Martins and Avraam Pa­padopou­los. It kept me fit through World Cup qual­i­fy­ing with Aus­tralia. It was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence, liv­ing in Shang­hai, liv­ing in Hangzhou. China is full-on – another level. When I signed, there were a cou­ple of thou­sand fans at the air­port with a lot of se­cu­rity and the army there. They’re so pas­sion­ate.

How keen were you to play for a club in Aus­tralia be­fore you re­tired? Austin Frazer, via Twit­ter I had an op­por­tu­nity to play for the City Group with Mel­bourne City, which was prob­a­bly the big­gest thing for me. It was a suc­cess, be­cause in the first match in the A-league I scored a bomb that was a defin­ing mo­ment, as there was a lot of pres­sure on me in go­ing back there. I played pretty much ev­ery game in the first sea­son and we won the club’s first ever tro­phy, which was what they wanted. Your 50th goal for Aus­tralia came against Syria. Did you feel bad about crush­ing their World Cup dream? Os­car Camp­bell, Le­ices­ter You don’t look at it like that. You have to win for your coun­try, or you won’t be go­ing to the World Cup. When you score 50 goals for your coun­try, you’re go­ing to crush some­one else’s dream.

With all the trav­el­ling in­volved in play­ing for Aus­tralia, have you ever played while jet­lagged? Jake Hynes, Lon­don Yeah, one hun­dred per cent. When you choose to play for Aus­tralia and in the Pre­mier League, that’s a recipe for dis­as­ter. You will fin­ish a game on a Satur­day, fly Sun­day, get there Mon­day night and train Tues­day, play on Wed­nes­day, then fly back as you’ve got a game on the Sun­day. I did that so many times with Ever­ton – that’s why you have to make bet­ter de­ci­sions later in your ca­reer so you can keep play­ing. It’s a big rea­son why I left Ever­ton.

How much have you en­joyed be­ing back at Mill­wall? We love hav­ing you back! Jamie Bartlett, Ton­bridge It was a mas­sive de­ci­sion to come back, be­cause of the ex­pec­ta­tion that I was com­ing back just for the sake of com­ing back. When I had dis­cus­sions with the gaffer [Neil Har­ris], it was about mak­ing an im­pact on and off the park. It’s been one of the best de­ci­sions I made. I haven’t played much foot­ball but I’m driv­ing the boys on, and we went on a long un­beaten run that was just ridicu­lous. I couldn’t be prouder. Mill­wall helped make me who I am to­day. Mill­wall and Ever­ton are two clubs who’ll al­ways be a part my life. [Shows FFT the tat­toos on his arm] You can see there: ‘MFC’ and ‘EFC’.

Was want­ing to go to the World Cup a fac­tor in the move back to Mill­wall? Holly Yates, via Twit­ter The big­gest thing was com­pet­i­tive­ness and the level of train­ing in Eng­land. At my last train­ing camp with the na­tional team my stats were up, so com­ing back here was the best thing that I could do.

I heard that you were due to move into coach­ing with Mel­bourne City. Is man­ag­ing still on your agenda? Nick Flynn, via Face­book Not as quickly now. That tran­si­tion was most ob­vi­ous if I’d seen out my ca­reer at Mel­bourne, but it didn’t work out. As a foot­baller, when you find a new gear there are al­ways op­por­tu­ni­ties, be­cause so many dif­fer­ent leagues are start­ing up and de­vel­op­ing all around the world. I’ll be get­ting my badges in the fu­ture, but I’m still en­joy­ing play­ing right now.

How does it feel when peo­ple call you the best Aus­tralian player of all time? Kian Hutchin­son, via Face­book For me, you can only be judged on what you’ve done for your coun­try. I’ve al­ways put my coun­try first, even over my club. [FFT: You’re four games from Aus­tralia’s ap­pear­ance record and you broke the scor­ing record in a friendly at The Den…] That was meant to be, wasn’t it? If I get the ap­pear­ance record, awe­some. But if I don’t, it’s not a big deal. To me, the big deal was reach­ing 50 goals. I’ve played in three World Cups and also scored five World Cup goals, so I’m proud to have had those mo­ments for my coun­try.

Top The Asian Cup: tasty Above Go­ing full Gig­gsy (mi­nus the chest hair) with his fu­ture Mill­wall boss, Neil Har­ris, in the 2004 FA Cup semi-fi­nal Right Tak­ing even­tual win­ners Italy to the wire at the 2006 World Cup Be­low Moyes took care of his...

Left New York, New York – it’s a hell of a town Above “Watch it again and see me go­ing crazy dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tions” Top right Re­turn­ing to Mill­wall in ex­cit­ing times Be­low Pre­sum­ing he’s picked, Cahill’s on course for a fourth World Cup

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