Tim Cahill: The archetypical Australian sportsman

11th October 2017 4:47 PM
COMETH THE HOUR: Australia's Tim Cahill celebrates after scoring in extra time during the 2018 World Cup qualifying football match between Australia and Syria at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Tuesday, October 10, 2017. COMETH THE HOUR: Australia's Tim Cahill celebrates after scoring in extra time during the 2018 World Cup qualifying football match between Australia and Syria at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Tuesday, October 10, 2017. DEAN LEWINS

TIM Cahill has done it again.

Those words have been used countless times over the years, such is the immensity of the man.

Greatness is not born, it is built, and in Tim Cahill, greatness bubbles away furiously.

You can see it each time he takes to the football field.

The 103 international cap veteran, at 37-years-old, scored his 50th goal for Australia on Tuesday night, meaning the Socceroos will face Honduras over two legs in November to qualify for Russia 2018.

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I had the honour of meeting Cahill in Adelaide in 2015.

He was hands down the most gentle person I have met who is at the top of his or her profession.

Unlike many people in positions of power or influence, Cahill treats people at the same level.

His demeanour, ability to look you in the eye and soft, eloquent speech struck me. He was not imposing, shorter and slimmer than me but obviously super fit.

Cahill's story lends itself to explaining who he is.

Born to an Australian/English father of Irish descent and a Samoan mother, Cahill grew up in a rugby family but his heart lay in football and, in his biography, he detailed how, as a boy, he would hang his jersey up by his bed each night, shine and buff his boots and lay them under it. Just like a professional player would.

Australia's Tim Cahill celebrates after scoring in extra time during the 2018 World Cup qualifying football match between Australia and Syria at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Tuesday, October 10, 2017.(AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
COMETH THE MAN: Tim Cahill has been there for Australia when his team has needed him the most. DEAN LEWINS

Australian clubs declined to sign him as a young boy. They said he was too small. His small stature hid the immensity of his spirit.

He would eventually earn his way into a team, Sydney Olympic and later Sydney United.

Twenty years ago, a 16-year-old Cahill moved to London on his own to begin his career with Millwall. His spirit earned him a contract.

He was never regarded as a technically brilliant player but, two decades later, he has international respect.

Unbelievably, he has played almost 700 professional games for club and country.

He was the first Australian to score at a world cup and is the all-time national team top goalscorer.

Each time Australia has been in a sticky situation, Cahill's been there to save the day.

No wonder the phrase "cometh the hour, cometh the man” has attached itself to such an iconic sportsman.

For me, Cahill embodies what is best about Australian football, and what it says about our culture.

Cahill plays the game with honesty and integrity.

He carries a determination and a spirit which is hard to replicate. His football longevity is testament to his own high standards.

That is Cahill's greatness.