Cahill is Australia’s best since Bradman

Zac Standish Roar Pro

By Zac Standish, Zac Standish is a Roar Pro

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    The past hundred years have seen many great Australian heroes don the iconic green and gold and step onto the pitch, field and court to compete for the land down under. As Australian citizens we have been truly blessed to see some amazing athletes compete for us over a wide range of sports.

    From Ricky Ponting to Cathy Freeman and everyone in between, there have been some absolute greats; however, since the legendary career of Sir Donald Bradman in the 1930s and 40s one man has reigned supreme over all else in the green and gold on the world stage. That man is Socceroos legend Tim Cahill.

    Tuesday Night’s World Cup qualification play-off tie against Syria was an excellent example of the legend that is Tim Cahill, as despite being in the twilight of his career at age 37, Cahill played all 120 minutes and scored two vital goals to ensure Australia continued on its road to Russia.

    Tim Cahill has always had a knack for coming up when his country needs him most, with 50 international goals signifying the success this man has had as an international sportsman for Australia.

    This is an extremely subjective topic, with many people holding a number of great Australian sportsmen in such high regard. With such a large number of athletes to choose from, this is a very special title that I believe he’s due for his performances on the world stage.

    Football is traditionally one of Australia’s most popular sports, though it has long sat behind the likes of AFL, cricket, rugby league and rugby union. These sports have all yielded some incredible performers, with many vying for the title of Australia’s greatest international sportsman. With the great Sir Donald Bradman clearly in front of the pack, it is the debate for second that causes a lot of angst, as the likes of Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, David Campese, John Eales, Cathy Freeman and Lauren Jackson have all excelled on the international stage.

    (Image: Matt King/Getty Images)

    However, what I believe sets Cahill apart from these other legends is the nature of the world stage on which his game is played. Although they are extremely popular in Australia, none of the sports in which we are highly ranked are as popular among the majority of the world, with the likes of cricket and rugby played mainly by Commonwealth countries.

    Tim Cahill has had to go up against the very best in the world’s most popular sport and has done so with unbelievable success. Ranked equal 55th in international goals, Cahill has made his name on the biggest stage of all. To put Cahill’s international record in perspective, Netherlands veteran Robin van Persie, who was considered one of best players in the world during his prime, has scored the same number of goals for his country from 102 caps, one fewer than Cahill. He is also only one goal behind French legend Thierry Henry, who scored 51 goals from 123 international caps.

    To be even comparable to these European legends is incredible and shows just how good Tim Cahill has been for the Socceroos.

    His longevity has been something to marvel, too – Cahill has been the face of the Socceroos for over a decade and has featured in the Australian side for the past three world cups. Although he might not have always been the best player in the team, his presence alone has seen viewed as the most dangerous in any Australian squad.

    Tuesday night’s match against Syria was an excellent example of this, as his ability to make himself dangerous in the box and his experience in big games allowed him to contribute with two massive goals. In a team full of young and up-and-coming stars, like Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic, Cahill was the only one who was able to find the back of the net, showing that class has no age restrictions.

    Cahill’s ability to always stand up in big moments has been a big part of his greatness, with many clutch goals at international level helping Australia to some crucial wins. This has been due to his excellent ability to finish his opportunities, particularly by rising up to score thunderous headers.

    (Image: Matt King/Getty Images)

    One of the best examples of a Cahill clutch goal is from the 2014 World Cup – after going 1-0 down to a powerhouse Netherlands side he was able to get on the end of a lofted through-ball and smack home an incredible volley. Although the Socceroos went on to lose that match 3-2, that goal alone lifted the side’s credibility in the tournament and showed that, despite our lowly ranking, Australia are no easy-beats on the world stage.

    Along with his excellent career for Australia, Cahill has also made a name for himself at club level, having scored 56 English Premier League goals with Everton in a period spanning 2004 to 2012. During his time at Everton Cahill was able to establish himself as a household name outside of Australia, from England to the rest of the world. This is something that can’t be said for most other Australian sporting legends, whose success is mainly contained to people within their own countries.

    The final factor that separates Cahill from the rest is just how much better his career has been compared to any other Australian football players. Although the likes of Harry Kewell and Archie Thompson were similar to Cahill in their primes, nobody else has been able to sustain their success like Timmy. Cahill leads Australia’s international goals record by 21 over Damian Mori, who was able to find the net on 29 occasions.

    It is quite clear that Cahill is Australian football’s greatest of all time, which is something that works in his favour when assessing just how good the man has been for his country.

    Tim Cahill has been an extraordinary performer for Australia on the global sporting stage, with his efforts single-handily dragging the Socceroos over the line on a number of occasions. Australia’s greatest sportsman is a very subjective topic, as a number of great athletes have donned the green and gold and delivered our population some brilliant moments. However, outside Sir Donald Bradman, who is clearly our most successful international athlete, Tim Cahill has been our best due to his ability to constantly lift his side and still be a dangerous presence and solid contributor to the Socceroos well into the twilight of his career.

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    The Crowd Says (44)

    • October 12th 2017 @ 6:52am
      Tim Cahill fan said | October 12th 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report

      Totally subjective, open for argument but I agree. His ability to perform at the highest levels and occasions of the game should be noted. He has scored at 3 World Cups and 3 Asian Cups, only a handful of players have been able to do that in the history of the sport.

    • October 12th 2017 @ 8:45am
      matth said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      It’s just too subjective to call. However, typically I would have thought being the best player for Australia is one thing, but to be the best in the world is another. So I would consider Cahill, although a legend of Australian sport to be behind people such as:

      Rod Laver – still in the conversation as the greatest tennis player of all time.
      Herb Elliott – Olympic champion and world record holder who retired having never been beaten in an international competition.
      Dawn Fraser – first person to win the same event at three Olympics in a row and still our greatest swimmer, male or female.

      But there wouldn’t be many others on a par. Maybe Keiren Perkins, Grant Hackett and/or Ian Thorpe in swimming, Betty Cuthbert, Cathy Freeman and Sally Pearson in athletics.

      Then you have your stars in non-global sports and that is very subjective indeed.

      So I would say Tim Cahill is in the conversation, but let’s just say he is our country’s greatest ever footballer. That is more than enough.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 12:59pm
        BigAl said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

        . . . also, didn’t Australia have a couple of squash players who won everything forever in their day…?

        • October 12th 2017 @ 1:20pm
          bob said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

          Heather McKay. Nearly twenty years undefeated. She was also a member of the women’s hockey team and a champion raquetball player.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 2:48pm
            BigAl said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

            well there you go ! Lay down mezere as far as I can see.
            You have jolted my mind Bob I also recall Ken Briscoe.

    • October 12th 2017 @ 9:30am
      northerner said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      I don’t quite understand the logic of proclaiming Bradman as the leading Australian sportsmen, and then dismissing all the cricket players who have come on the grounds that cricket is played only in Commonwealth countries. It was played in even fewer countries back in Bradman’s day, after all, but enough for the author to judge him the best Australian sportsman. So, to my mind, some faulty reasoning on the author’s part.

      Swimming and athletics are certainly global sports, as is tennis, and our best in those sports were the best in the world in their day – olympic and world championship gold, tennis slams, and so on. Great servant of the game though Cahill is and has been, I doubt anyone ever regarded him as being amongst the best footballers of his era. Great Australian footballer, definitely, but there are other Australians who, IMHO, have a better claim to the title of best Australian athlete. .

      • October 12th 2017 @ 9:38am
        Nemesis said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        Am I correct in saying you recently migrated to Australia from Canada? I guess you did a fair bit of research on sporting identities in Australia, before migrating? Impressive.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 10:24am
          northerner said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          Actually, I’m old enough to have watched people like Rod Laver and Dawn Fraser on TV – we did have TV in Canada back then, you know – and we watched international sports, by gosh. It’s not all snow drifts, grizzly bears and ice hockey there.

          I’d have thought that the more or less objective opinion of an outsider who could identify a dozen top Australian sportsmen in four or five fields before ever arriving in this country, would suggest that maybe those dozen or so really were top international sportsmen. Incidentally, I knew who Tim Cahill was before I ever got here too. And who people like Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne were as well. And, amazingly, I knew who Bradman was,although obviously he was before my time, and unheard of in Canada: he’s quite well known, though, in a few other countries where I’ve lived.

          So, flattered though I am by your assessment of my research capabilities, I must admit to not having done any on this particular subject. I just have a reasonably good memory.

      • Roar Pro

        October 12th 2017 @ 1:28pm
        Zac Standish said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

        If you know the story of Sir Donald Bradman there is honestly no disputing he is Australia’s best sportsman even factoring in the amount of countries that played cricket. In terms of Cahill I am referring to performances on the world stage and I feel nobody else has performed for Australia quite as well as Timmy has.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 2:05pm
          northerner said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

          My vote would go to Laver – no one, Australian or otherwise, has achieved what he achieved, and very much on a world stage as well. But it’s all a matter of opinion, isn’t it?

    • October 12th 2017 @ 9:54am
      Square Nostrils said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

      When talking about best in sport I always look firstly at degree of competitiveness throughout the world, after all we all live on on the same planet, despite the parochial attitudes that prevail in any single country(coming to that later)
      On that note Football is in another stratosphere.
      I also look at the positioning of a sportsperson within that global village.
      Despite however the major weighting being competitiveness throughout the world, parochial impact plays a part in what the sportsperson has achieved for their country.
      So as its a footballer Tim Cahill using these 3 weightings.
      On the first weghting he gets top marks , however on the second as a world football fan he is only at best in the second tier of football greats past and present.
      Third more subjective, sure within Australia he often delivers ie the other night and the first World cup match in 2006 against Japan, but as he’s part of the broader football world , there would have been minimal feedback from overseas boosting the image of Australian footballers.
      So using these 3 weightings for me Rod Laver even though he was dominant in tennis at a time when it wasn”t anywhere near the “World Game ” it is today takes the biscuit. Simply because modern day tennis pundits and players still look up to him as a yardstick in tennis, surely no greater accolade.
      Maybe Herb Elliott runs him close as others have said.

    • October 12th 2017 @ 10:07am
      Sydneysider said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      I love Timmy but even I admit that the best Aussie since Bradman was Rod Laver.

      2 grand slams in a calendar year which has never been repeated in men’s tennis.

      Anyway, I just hope we get past Honduras because then Timmy will join an elite group of footballers who have played at 4 world cups:

      Lothar Matthaus, Pele, Buffon, Maradona, Maldini, Cannavaro, Xavi, Casillas…. and hopefully Cahill!

      • October 12th 2017 @ 10:12am
        Square Nostrils said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        That in itself Sydneysider would be some achievement.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 11:51am
        chris said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        You can add Miroslav Klose to that list.
        Even more exclusive are the players that have actually scored at 4 world cups.
        Klose and Pele and I think Ronaldo (Brazil version) are the only ones.
        Imagine Tim scoring in Russia 🙂

    • October 12th 2017 @ 10:32am
      punter said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

      Cahill is a legend, a Socceroos legend.

      When comparing greats from one era to another, one sport from another sport, people have their preferences based on their age & their preference for which sport they like.

      But saying that Cahill is a legend.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 10:58am
        northerner said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

        It’s all subjective, of course, but, you’re right: we can argue about whether Cahill is or is not the greatest sportsman, but we can’t argue about his being a legend.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 11:07am
          punter said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report


        • October 12th 2017 @ 11:08am
          Sydneysider said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

          He is a legend of Australian sport Northerner. That we can agree on.

          On the global stage, when we’ve needed someone to score a goal to get us the win or to qualify for the next round of the world cup qualifiers or Asian Cup, he has been the man.

          50 goals scored against 28 different countries. In this current qualifying campaign, including friendlies and Confederations Cup, the Socceroos have played in 13 different countries and travelled thousands of kilometres.

          Cahill is still there producing when it counts. We will miss him when he retires from the national team.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 12:51pm
            northerner said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

            No arguments from me on that at all. The rest is another issue for another day

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