GROWING up in Sydney, Tim Cahill had one aim in life: to play professional soccer. At the time he imagined that would be, at best, with one of the country’s top domestic sides.
The four-year-old with tears streaming down his cheeks as he lined up for his first game could not have imagined that his dream would one day see him move between England, the US and China and travel all over the world.
For Cahill’s working-class parents and older brother, Sean, supporting that single-minded ambition demanded enormous commitment and financial devotion.
Cahill first represented not Australia but his mother’s homeland, Samoa, at the age of 14.
At 17 he was sent by his family to England on the slim hope of being invited to trial with a lower-level club. Within weeks he was weighing up three separate contract offers from the Second and First divisions and, most remarkably, the UK’s Premier League. Loyalty saw Cahill choose the least impressive of the three, Millwall in London, on a salary of £250 a week. There he went on to make 241 appearances as Millwall earned promotion and, almost inconceivably, faced up to the mighty Manchester United in the final of the FA Cup.
The pinnacle of his decade-plus in England was an eight-year stint in the midfield for Everton in Liverpool.
As part of the so-called ‘golden generation’ he became the first Socceroo to score in a World Cup, leading Australia’s impressive run in 2006. He openly admits that making himself available for Australian selection has always been his priority.
Cahill’s candidly written and emotionally transparent autobiography is not, he explains, an end-of-career retrospective; now, at 35, a key member of Shanghai Shenhua in China and continuing to line up for Socceroo duty, he hopes to play on for at least a few more years.