Kazan (Russia) (AFP) – Australia talisman Tim Cahill shot down talk of retirement on Thursday as he targets joining Pele on an elite, four-man list of players to have scored at four World Cups.
But first he has to hope Australia’s Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk gives him the nod from the substitutes’ bench.
Socceroos great Cahill is responsible for nearly half of Australia’s 11 World Cup goals to date.
And although he is expected to start all three Group C games — against France, Peru and Denmark — on the bench, Cahill’s dream of becoming just the fourth player after Brazil’s Pele and Germans Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose to score in four World Cups remains intact.
At 38 years old, time is against the Australian, who says he has “spent a whole year getting ready for three games”.
Cahill underlined his personal ambitions, and those of an Australia team hoping to stun Euro 2016 finalists France in Kazan, on Saturday.
Asked about his future plans, he said: “The factor is, we train today, we train the day after, then we play France and that’s all that’s on my mind.
“For me, being here now just means so much to me. To get on the pitch is going to be one step, to score would just be amazing. To join the list of names that are on there now would just be priceless.”
At Germany 2006, then fresh-faced Everton striker Cahill struck a late double to stun Japan, setting up a 3-1 win that was crucial to their march into the last 16.
Four years later in South Africa, Cahill hit another against Serbia in their ultimately futile bid for a last-16 place.
At Brazil 2014 Cahill struck again, reducing the team’s arrears while 2-0 down to Chile, and then underlined his class with a stunning volley that clattered in off the crossbar to level against the Netherlands.
– Millwall move –
Cahill now has to hope his “calculated decision” to return to England — moving to Championship side Millwall in January in a bid for more playing time and to maintain the fitness levels demanded by the World Cup — pays off.
“It would (have been) a massive heartache not to be here but it wouldn’t have been for the lack of trying,” he said.
“The hardest thing as a footballer, leading into a World Cup, is just to prepare. The moment I decided to go to Millwall it was purely to be involved, if I could physically and mentally, in my fourth World Cup.
“The games and the training I played there helped so much. Now that I’m actually here, to talk about it, it’s amazing.”
The dream remains intact, but Van Marwijk has started Urawa Reds striker Andrew Nabbout in the Socceroos’ past four games and Cahill, despite his track record, is not second choice.
But if he does get the nod, Cahill says he will be ready.
“It’s every kid’s dream. I speak to a lot of the young players. (Daniel) Arzani sits next to me… and all we talk about is, when you get a chance, you have to take it.
“You don’t know until you try. If I get on that pitch, I’m going to try and make something happen.”