Ange Postecoglou believes Tim Cahill’s ascension to the Socceroos century club should make all Australians — not just sports fans — salute the striker’s achievements.
The Socceroos coach has paid emotional tribute to the legendary goalscorer on the eve of a milestone match in Russia.
Should he be called off the bench — as has become Cahill’s role in his twilight playing years — at the Confederations Cup against Chile, the 37-year-old will reach 100 internationals for his nation.
It is a feat no outfield player has accomplished and one Postecoglou believes has Cahill in rarefied air.
“He’s a great Australian, transcending sport,” Postecoglou said.
“100 games for your country and … every one of them earned. If he plays tomorrow it’s not because it will be cap 100, it will be because he’s earned it.
“He’s just a great Australian, and hopefully recognition for this is not just from the football community but from the nation as a whole.
“I’ve got no doubt that if it was any other sport in this country he would be held up as that.
“He’s conquered the world. He’s scored at three world cups. If that’s not world class then I don’t know what is.”
Cahill may never have been a Socceroo
Of course, Cahill might not have even played one match in a gold Socceroos shirt.
A youth appearance for Samoa threatened to tie him to the Pacific nation of his heritage and not his birth country of Australia.
At 24, he was allowed to represent the Socceroos after a FIFA ruling.
“When I got cleared it was definitely a tearful moment,” he said.
“You do everything you can to be a professional footballer and you’re told you can’t play for your country, it’s a big thing. It could have been a lot different.
“To finally get (to 100 caps) is pretty special.
“I won’t get emotional. I’m not emotional when it comes to what I do on the pitch and that’s business.”
With an eye to a fourth World Cup in 2018, Cahill has a contract with Melbourne City for one more season which then transitions into a coaching deal.
His first campaign in Australia yielded 11 goals — including the goal of the season and the FFA Cup final winner — from 22 matches.
Barring injury, a similar return would see him picked to return to Russia as a 38-year-old should Australia qualify.
Cahill said he didn’t lack for motivation while Postecoglou was the Socceroos coach.
“The biggest part of why I’m still here is Ange.
“When he first took over (he said) ‘Why can’t this be your biggest and best campaign?’ and I looked at him and smirked.
“I got to the (2014) World Cup and he said ‘Why can’t this be your best ever World Cup?’ and it was up there.
“He said the same thing before the Asian Cup and a few more special things happened. It’s the same thing today.
“I never take anything for granted. I honestly do treat every camp like it’s my last. And that’s the way every single player should treat it.”