Profiles
Tim Cahill
Added 2006 Mar 17, 00:29 by Admin
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Profile: The following articles on Tim Cahill were written by Michael Cockerill and published by the Sydney Morning Herald on April 2 2005.

Tiny Tim's giant leap
April 2, 2005

The world has become Tim Cahill's oyster but, as Michael Cockerill discovers, the Premier League star is still a fish-and-chips kind of man.

Tim Cahill returned to the sanctuary of the family home at Prestons on Easter Sunday, and collapsed. "He walked in the door at 8.30 in the morning, and slept for hours," his father, Tim senior, says. "He was absolutely shattered."

It's been that kind of year for Cahill, whose life, and career, have been utterly transformed since he scored the winning goal in an FA Cup semi-final almost 12 months ago.

The scene was a sunlit afternoon at Old Trafford, a sweet strike to score the only goal of the game for unfashionable Millwall, and a bare-chested celebratory jog along the sidelines to embrace his family, who were gathered at the fence. The next day, images of Cahill, shirt over his head and torso exposed, were plastered across every paper in Britain, his phone rang off the hook, and he moved into a south London hotel under an assumed name to escape the frenzied attention.

Within six months he had been asked to swap shirts by Ruud van Nistelrooy after playing against Manchester United in an FA Cup final, his semi-final goal against Sunderland had been voted by BBC viewers as the Sports Moment of the Year, he had moved to the Premier League to wear another blue shirt, that of Everton, and gone from debutant in April to an integral member of Australia's best XI by November. To cap it all off, just before he returned home recently for international duty against Iraq and Indonesia, he was named Oceania Player of the Year.
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Thankfully, all of this hasn't gone to his head. At a Perth bar on Wednesday night, Cahill was surrounded by Green and Gold Army fans, chatted amiably for hours and bought a huge round of drinks. Fame is a difficult beast to control, but so far the man they call "Tiny" on the terraces at Goodison Park seems to be taking it in his stride.

Most of all, Cahill wants to let his football continue to do his talking. The English Premier League is the fish bowl of world football, and players have become the A-list of society. But the 25-year-old from Sydney's west refuses to be sucked into the vortex.

The experience of his seven-year apprenticeship in London SE16 - where, before last season's fairytale journey to the FA Cup final, Millwall were among the least loved clubs in the land - has given him the right grounding.

Few people asked for his autograph during his time at the New Den, and fewer still asked for an interview. Things might have changed around him, but Cahill hasn't changed.

One of three brothers and a sister, but half-Samoan through his mother's side, Cahill grew up in Sydney as part of an extended family. Now he has a son of his own, two-year-old Kyha, while younger brother Chris (who hopes to become a professional footballer) lives with him in Liverpool, and older brother Sean lives in London. His mother and father have been regular visitors to England in recent years, all of which helps him remember who he is and where he's come from.

"Thank God, and touch wood, he's still the same boy," says his mother, Sisifo.

Cahill is pondering that observation in the lobby of the Socceroos' hotel this week. The pitfalls of being young and impressionable in the bright lights of the Premier League have seemingly passed him by.

"I'm a family man," he says. "They keep me in touch. It doesn't matter if you score a hat-trick at Old Trafford or anything, you still go home with the kids running about, and with your mum and dad in your ear 'ole telling you all the mistakes you made. It's easy to get knocked back down to earth. It definitely makes a difference in keeping your feet firmly on the floor. I can always call on my family to help me out, instead of someone I don't know.

"To be honest, I don't trust a lot of people. Coming into the premiership, your whole life can change. The last 12 months have been amazing, a massive change. The publicity side, especially, can be a bit of a hassle. I try and stay away from it as much as I can.

"The reason I'm here is because I've played good football and people have noticed it. And that's the way it should stay. As much as it's good to do interviews and that, you've got to pick and choose the right ones to do. In the premiership, they can forget all the good things and concentrate on the bad things to make their stories. Obviously, footballers are not robots, we like a night out every now and then, to get together with the lads.

"But everyone knows there are limits to what you do, the way you enjoy yourself. When you've got a family, like I have, you can't really do much anyway."

Cahill has certainly kept on the straight and narrow since moving north to Liverpool.

"Millwall was like a very electric sort of place to be with the lads," he says. "They were quite spontaneous and we'd get up to a bit of mischief. As for Everton, it's a bit more serious. The lads like to have a laugh but it's about doing your work first - that's the difference. But they've made me feel at home."

The mutual admiration society is in full swing. A banner at last weekend's game between Australia and Iraq in Sydney showed how much the Everton fans have taken to their newest star. "King Cahill - Goodison God" it read, and there is little doubt he is frontrunner as the supporters' choice for player of the season.

Statistically, seven goals in 26 league games - the last in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool - are a good return for a midfielder. But it is Cahill's blue-collar work ethic which has won over the terraces. Eight months since his $4 million transfer, he is already feeling like part of the furniture at Goodison Park.

"Liverpool people are so down to earth," he says. "London is very quick, a big city, people are very busy, there's not enough hours in the day. But in Liverpool, you can say hello to people in the street. They're like Australians, more relaxed, very friendly. You've got two big clubs in one little city. Everyone's been so nice to me, I've even got some great comments from the Red [Liverpool] side."

The good news for Toffees fans is that Cahill - who is contracted until 2008 - is giving every indication he wants to stay.

"When you move, you've got to keep changing lifestyles - not only your own, but your family, they've got to settle in as well," he says. "At Millwall I put in a really big shift, could have left earlier, could have left earlier for more money, blah, blah, blah.

"But it seemed the case was we would get promoted and buy players if we got promoted, so I stayed. But it didn't happen. Unlucky. So I've moved on to Everton, massive sleeping giant club, coming alive now. To be part of that has been unbelievable. I've enjoyed every minute, and I'd like to think I'll be around for a while."

As Everton ponder a return to the big time through the Champions League, Cahill's influence grows by the day. By the time you read this he will have been back on the training field at Bellefield preparing for Sunday's trip to West Bromwich Albion and, while he has been away, manager David Moyes has been sweating on his fitness.

"It shows how much he has improved in that we are talking about really missing a player we picked up from the lower leagues," says Moyes.

An incredible 12 months indeed.
TIM CAHILL FACT FILE


Age: 25

Birthplace: Sydney

Club: Everton

Former clubs: Millwall (England), Sydney United, Sydney Olympic

League appearances/goals: Millwall 212/52; Everton 26/7

International appearances/goals: Australia 6/7

Odd spot: Cahill finished top scorer in last year's Oceania Nations Cup in Adelaide, having scored six goals - all with his head.

The fans: Everton fans are unanimous in their praise of Cahill's ability to score goals and his work ethic. But they also point to his disciplinary record as a potential problem. Cahill's profile on fan site toffeeweb.com notes he "was suspended due to his less-than-stellar disciplinary record at the New Den (home ground of Cahill's previous club, Millwall) - he topped the bad boys' table with 17 yellow cards and two reds!" So far this season, Cahill has played 26 games and received six yellow cards and one red, a slightly better performance. Another profile, on evertonians.net, noted that Cahill had other problems such as being "called Tim", and that for Australians, "international duty involves flying halfway round the world".

The nation: Cahill's return to Australia to play for the Socceroos against Iraq and Indonesia dismayed his employers. He was not expected to make it back to England to play in Sunday's league game against West Bromwich Albion, but after being rested for the Indonesia match, he will be called upon. A post on bluekipper.com was approving of Australian coach Frank Farina: "Although [Cahill's] knacked (sic) from flying from the other side of the world, he will be fit to play against WBA on Sunday. Australia coach Frank Farina left Cahill on the bench for the 3-0 win in a friendly with Indonesia. Thanks, Frank."

Best job in the world
By Michael Cockerill
April 2, 2005


When Tim Cahill was a six-year-old playing for the Tigers club at Haberfield, he would cry before going on the field.

When Cahill was a 16-year-old, he came home from Kingsgrove High School to tell his parents he had had enough of the classroom and wanted to go to England to become a professional footballer.

In the past fortnight, Cahill has played for Everton in the English Premier League and for Australia against Iraq, and admits he is more in love with football than ever.

It is almost eight years since Cahill left home, and eight months since he left his first English club, Millwall, to join Everton.

At the age of 25, his apprenticeship is behind him and his best years ahead of him. The all-action midfielder with a happy knack of finding the net is Australia's, and the Premier League's, rising star.

"I love playing as much as ever," he says. "Of course, it can be very tiring. But there's no better job in the world. Everyone talks about the financial side, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work that out.
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"But you can see when players love playing their football, when they love what they're doing. To me, there's no better feeling than putting on a jersey and playing in big stadiums, whether club or country. The rewards are immense. [And] ... if you do well, it reflects well on everyone else."

Cahill has been doing well from the moment he arrived at Goodison Park. A carry-over suspension from last season and an appearance for Australia at the Athens Olympics delayed his debut for the Toffees but, since making his start against Manchester United at Old Trafford last August, he has hardly put a foot wrong.

"Tim has been great for us this season," says teammate Kevin Kilbane, the Irish international. "He makes a nuisance of himself in the middle of the park, and he has been one of our key players throughout the year."

Everton manager David Moyes remains equally enamoured of his bargain buy, who cost the Goodison Park side a miserly $4 million and has been hugely influential in the club's staggering rise to the precipice of a Champions League place.

"Tim may have spent a good few years in the lower leagues, but I think the step up has come naturally to him," Moyes says.

And Cahill's success in the top flight has come as no surprise to Dutch international and Manchester United star Ruud van Nistelrooy, who went out of his way to ask Cahill to swap shirts after last season's FA Cup final in what turned out to be Cahill's last game for the Lions.

"When that happens, it's nice," Cahill says. "Ruud came up and told me he'd always thought I'd make it to the premiership and he thought I'd do well. That sort of thing does give you a big boost."

Two-thirds of the way into the season, Cahill has repaid the faith of those who believed in him. In spades.

"The biggest thing about the premiership is how quick it is," he says. "Everything you do - from a five-yard ball to a 50-yard ball - you get judged every minute of the game.

"For me, the biggest thing is to be a more complete player. It's only my first season in the premiership, so there's a lot of things to learn.

"My ambition for the team is obviously to finish in the top four [for the Champions League]. There's eight games to go, and we're four points clear. There's so much to play for, but I'm positive we can do it."

The picture might have been brighter but for a loss to arch-rivals Liverpool in their last game a fortnight ago, a result that allows the fifth-place Reds to turn up the heat when Everton resume their Premier League campaign against West Bromwich Albion this weekend.

Everton lost the Merseyside derby at Anfield, but Cahill did manage to produce a wonderful consolation goal - his seventh of the season.

"Yeah, I did enjoy the goal, especially as it was at the Kop end," he says. "You have to make the most of those occasions."

The ties that bind
By Michael Cockerill
April 2, 2005

It was late on the night of his 21st birthday party, and Tim Cahill finally dressed for the occasion. Off came the jeans and t-shirt, and on came the puletafi, the wrap-around costume worn by Samoan men for traditional ceremonies.

Among those watching was Smokin' Joe Stanley, the former All Blacks centre whose cousins were close friends of the Cahill family. Cahill's coming of age four years ago was as much Polynesian as western, and wherever his football career takes him, he will never forget what his mother, Sisifo, has taught him.

"Samoa is a massive part of my life," he says. "My mum's from there, and I'm proud to be half-Samoan. I'm very close to that side of my family, and it's given me some strong traditions and beliefs. It was a great 21st, having all my cousins there."

How many cousins, exactly? "I wouldn't have a clue. When you're Samoan, everyone's a relative," he laughs.

Two weeks ago, Cahill was voted Oceania Player of the Year for 2004, only the second winner after Christian Karembeu (France and New Caledonia) to have a Pacific heritage. "Because of my situation, it means a lot to me," he says. "It was a huge honour."

Samoa, ranked 177th in the world, is hardly a footballing power on the regional, let alone global, stage. Thanks to a steady flow of funds from FIFA, inroads are being made. Yet rugby remains the sport of choice for most Samoans.

But like his older brother, Sean, and his younger brother, Chris, Cahill was not allowed to play rugby as a youngster, even when the family spent a couple of years living in Samoa and neighbouring American Samoa before moving back to Sydney, where the boys were born.

"When the boys were at primary school, the principals would often ask if they could play rugby, but I never wanted them to," says Sisifo. "Soccer was a lot better. You could still get injured, but it was never as rough."

Thanks to Tim snr, their English-born father, the boys eventually warmed to the world game. "In this household, soccer is the religion," jokes Sisifo.

It was on a family holiday back in Apia 11 years ago, however, that religion got in the way of reality. The Samoan under-17 team needed reinforcements for an Oceania qualifying tournament and, after being given the green light by Australian officials, Sean, a goalkeeper, and Tim, then just 14 years old, made the fateful decision to play.

Tim came off the bench for just 11 minutes at the end of one game, but that single appearance came back to haunt him. For the next nine years, he was ineligible to represent Australia as he had already represented Samoa at a FIFA-sanctioned tournament. Despite being a minor at the time, and despite numerous pleas from the family, from Oceania, Samoan and Australian officials, FIFA refused to budge. Until 18 months ago.

Cahill became the test case for a change in the eligibility rules and, as of January 1, 2003, he was finally cleared to represent the country of his birth, and the country of his choice. Cahill has not only emerged as a key Socceroo, but a proud one. Samoa, though, will always remain close to his heart.

"I tried to bring him up the Samoan way," says his mother, who celebrated her 50th birthday last night.

What's that? "To look up to your elders, and don't talk back," she says.

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