Tim Cahill would love nothing better than to join the select company of Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose by finding the net in a fourth World Cup over the next few weeks but first the Australian actually needs to get on the pitch.
The 38-year-old former Everton forward is far and away his country’s most prolific international goalscorer with 50 strikes in 106 matches, but has played virtually no club football for the last year.
That makes it unlikely that he will start against France on Saturday but he will be hoping his habit of scoring at crucial moments for the Socceroos might persuade coach Bert van Marwijk that he is at least worthy of a place on the bench.
“I’ve put so much effort into being here,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“To get on the pitch is one step, but to score would just be amazing. People dream of scoring in one World Cup but to join the list of names who are on there now would be priceless.”
Cahill has scored five of his country’s 11 World Cup goals, his first against Japan in 2006 was also Australia’s first ever and his last against the Dutch four years ago was a sumptuous volley that ranked among the best of the tournament.
Although the Sydneysider played his first international football as a 14-year-old for Samoa’s under-20 team back in 1994, his fanatical fitness regime leaves him in no doubt he could still do a job if given the chance. “I spent a whole year getting ready for three games,” he said. “As a professional, you have got to hit certain levels of physical data, professionalism, that gets you to where I’m sitting today.”
Cahill amply illustrated his knack of scoring key goals last October with two, both from trademark headers, to get Australia past Syria in one of two playoffs that featured on their long road to Russia.
And if he does get a chance to pull on the gold shirt for a 107th time against the French at the Kazan Arena, nothing would give him greater pleasure than adding an Australian name to those of Brazilian Pele and Germans Seeler and Klose.
“If I get on that pitch, I know that I’m going to make sure I’m going to try and make something happen,” he said.
“After that, I’m in a different world. I’d love to join the greats (and) to do something special for my country.”