If Tim Cahill didn’t exist, could anyone dare to invent him?

Tim Cahill celebrates after kicking a goal during the FFA Cup final. Photo: Daniel PockettIf he didn’t exist, could you even dare to invent him?
Nanjing Night Net

Tim Cahill is a player so improbable that his achievements, especially on the big stage, seem scarcely believable.

He’s not the most skilful player in the world, nor is he the most technically adroit. He is not Australia’s greatest player by almost any measure, although he is its most recognisable, and certainly the greatest Socceroo.

But he has something more priceless than both those commodities: he has the knack of rising to the occasion, the bigger the stage, the more impact he has.

And he has the gift of timing, knowing where to be in the penalty box, knowing when to be there and knowing how to finish.

Cahill has scored so many vital goals for both club and country over the years that it sometimes is easy to forget his crucial interventions.

Yes, everyone knows about his goals against Japan in the World Cup in 2006, or his spectacular volley against the Netherlands in Porto Alegre in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But there are countless others that have arrived in big games, in Liverpool v Everton derbies in the Premier League, for Millwall early in his career when he scored an FA Cup semi final winner against Sunderland that took them to Wembley, along with countless goals for the national team in various tournaments.

Now can be added his winner in the FFA Cup final, when he rose to head home Ivan Franjic’s cross to make the crucial difference on the night when Melbourne City beat Sydney FC and won their first ever men’s football trophy under the City Football Group ownership.

In the aftermath of his matchwinning performance for Melbourne City he declared the FFA Cup triumph as “right up there” with the biggest achievements of his career.

It was pure Cahill, a textbook header early in the second half, which brought City glory. All his classic aerial skills were on display: his ability to push off defenders, to find a half stride of space, to leap with perfect timing and to place, rather than thump, the ball wide of goalkeeper Danny Vukovic.

It was reminiscent of the goal he scored against Chile at the World Cup of 2014, a header which had also come from an Ivan Franjic​ cross.

It was a script that could have been written days before the game, so often does the Socceroo frontman provide a storyline that seems to defy logic and expectation. Except that had any journalist speculated on how the winning goal would come it would probably been spiked by an editor on the grounds that this sort of fairytale could not happen, especially not when the protagonist is a 37-year-old who nowadays struggles to see out 90 minutes.

But Cahill does what others don’t, and in the wake of helping City to win its most significant trophy so far, he said the playing group could now build on that achievement and use it as a springboard for greater things in the future.

“My feelings are pretty amazing. Everything we spoke about for the past nine months, leading into this campaign and the FFA Cup … the culture of the club, to bring a winning mentality and a group of guys together.

“Its up there with the proudest moments of my career. You can have your wildest dreams … this is nice, it’s in Australia, it’s where I am from.

“I said I would give it everything, regardless of what people were saying about my age and my body,” said Cahill, wearing a T-shirt proclaiming City’s Cup success and his winners medal round his neck.

He also revealed that he had been made angry and determined to do something by the Sydney fans, who just before he scored had been taunting him with chants that he was “only here for the money”.

“It was like Chile, but I didn’t jump as high. Cic’s cross, I was thinking did I have to go and meet the ball … I could see Vukovic’s body was open …

“Tonight was just special, just before the fans were singing negative things about me, then I thought this is my chance.

“It’s the story of my life. That’s why I play, for moments like that. My job is to be in the box and if I score great … It was beautiful, nice the way it hit my head and went in.”

One of the reason City signed Cahill was top tap into his experience and know how, the ability to mentally prepare for matches at the highest stage and in the most difficult of conditions.

He said he had spoken in a heartfelt fashion to his team-mates before the game, impressing on them how they had to seize this opportunity.

“Collectively as a group I said to the boys before we went out, you don’t get a lot of chances like this in your career. For one night only we will play our heart and souls out and give it everything, and when you are cooked put your hand up … I wanted to get the fire out of their bellies.”

Cahill paid tribute to the City Football Group and the attention to detail and commitment they had brought to turning a broken down Melbourne Heart into the powerhouse that is City, setting standards off the field for the rest of the A-League to match.

“This club is run like a Premier League club. I am there from 8am every morning to three in the afternoons … I am so impressed with what we do in the community and with the women’s team.”

“This football club, we have to win things. Now we have won something, we take this momentum, we regroup, we stay humble, and go again.

“There would have been a lot of people watching that game, praying we would lose. I hope the other codes take notice.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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