Undoubtedly the Socceroos’ talisman, Cahill has invariably delivered when it matters most. A phenomenal goal return from midfield of a goal every other game at international level has included some crucial strikes for his country. None though are more historic than his quickfire double against Japan at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ when Australia appeared headed for a disastrous opening match defeat. Down 1-0 with nine minutes remaining, Cahill showed typical poachers intuition to be in the right spot to force home a loose ball, before scoring a second right on full-time to ensure a 3-1 win which ultimately was the difference as the Socceroos achieved a debut qualification for the knockout stage. The opening goal was also Australia’s first on the world’s greatest stage following a goalless return in their only previous showing 32 years earlier.
Cahill plays an attacking midfield role for his country generally operating behind a lone striker, though occasionally, notably against Japan in the FIFA World Cup qualifier, he has also been used as a striker. Despite his modest height, the 30-year-old is renowned for an impressive heading ability and remarkable vertical leap, which allows him to invariably overcome the tallest of opponent.
Born and raised in Sydney to an English father and Samoan mother, the international path for Cahill could have been very different. A single appearance for Samoa as a 14-year-old tied Cahill to the Pacific nation until a change in eligibility rules allowed Cahill to finally represent the Socceroos coming off the bench against South Africa in London in March 2004.
He was Australia’s top-scorer in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup bagging four goals in just six matches. Notably, with Australia looking at a rare home FIFA World Cup qualifying defeat, he scored two impressive headed goals as Australia overcame Japan to finish top of the group. His history-making sense of scoring also saw Cahill bag Australia’s debut goal at the nation’s first AFC Asian Cup appearance in 2007 against Oman.
As a teenager Cahill generally missed selection in representative teams and he took it upon himself to try his luck in England landing a contract at Millwall as a 17-year-old. Six successful years in south London followed culminating in the club reaching the FA Cup where they were defeated, but neverthess Cahill became the first Socceroo to feature in England’s premier football final dating back to Joe Marston exactly 50 years earlier.
Cahill then made a comfortable transition to the Premier League with Everton where he has just completed his sixth season. He has consistently maintained an impressive goal return for the Toffees and has captained the side in the place of regular skipper Phil Neville.
Cahill has a deep affinity with his Islander heritage and dedicated a goal he scored for Everton to the Samoan tsunami tragedy last year by miming a traditional rowing stroke. Younger brother Chris played for Samoa in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.