While London, and indeed the whole country, are welcoming athletes and fans, 176 miles to the north-west, for Everton and Tim Cahill it’s time to wave goodbye, as their paths separate after eight years after the Sydney-born midfielder became the latest Premier League player to cross the Pond to ply his trade in the MLS.
While David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane’s decision to swap football for soccer was more expected due to age or iconic fashion status (sorry Robbie, it’s Becks we’re talking about here) and motivated by the opportunity of signing one last financially rewarding contract as they entered the winter of their careers, Cahill’s decision was surprising for he’s only 31-year-old and was a regular starter for Everton.
When Everton reached an agreement with the New York Red Bulls on Monday, exactly eight years on from the day when David Moyes decided to make the Australian his record signing in what Cahill himself described as a “dream coming true”, they parted ways with a player who scored 68 goals in 256 appearances with the Blues, becoming one of the club’s greatest servants in the Premier League era
The Australian spent seven seasons with Millwall, scoring 57 goals in 250 appearances and losing the 2004 FA Cup final to Manchester United in Cardiff before he moved to Goodison Park in a £1.5m deal in the summer of the same year.
Cahill stormed into the Premier League and picked up the club’s Player of the Season Award after finishing the season as Everton’s top scorer in his first season, a pattern that would soon become familiar to the Goodison Park faithful as well as to the rest of the Premier League clubs.
Never one to shy away from his roots, Cahill helped Australia on the pitch – in 2006 he became the first Australian to score in the final stage of a World Cup, while the 2010 campaign was less fortunate – as well as off it, putting Australia on the map with his success in the Premier League, like Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka had done before him, and raising the Premier League’s profile even further in his homeland.
The Red Bulls, and indeed the whole MLS, will hope he can play a similar role to promote the league Down Under.
MLS teams will definitely have to improve their aerial ability if they are to limit one of Cahill’s preferred source of goals, considering he’s headed 31 of his 54 Premier League goals.
The Aussie utility man – he played as centre-forward for Everton when the Blues suffered an injury crisis in 2008-09 – who developed an habit of scoring in the Merseyside derby – the first Everton player since Dixie Dean to score at Anfield on three different occasions – will look back at his Everton career with a hint of regret as a defeat in the 2009 FA Cup final was the closest he came to a winning a trophy for the club.
For a club in Everton’s financial situation the decision of cashing in on a 31-year-old with an injury record is a perfectly reasonable one, but the Blues are going to miss one of their best players in their recent history: ”On a personal level, I will miss the first-ever player that David and I went to see together, and the wide-eyed bundle of energy that walked into my office a short time later and told me that Everton was his destiny,” said Everton chairman Bill Kenwright
“And he now embarks on a new stage of his career with our heartfelt thanks, and of course our real best wishes for his future.
“I can guarantee New York Red Bulls will have many, many admirers cheering them on from across the Ocean. All wearing the Blue of Everton. Thank you Tim.”