Australia hero Tim Cahill says he has no regrets over the first-half tackle in Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands which will see him miss their final group game against Spain.
Cahill’s wonder goal off a first-time volley with his weaker left foot drew the teams level at 1-1 in Porto Alegre, while acting as the catalyst for another spirited performance from the unfancied Socceroos.
The 34-year-old however picked up his second booking of the tournament for a late challenge on Bruno Martins-Indi, ruling him out of the clash with the soon-to-be-deposed reigning world champions on Monday, in what would have been his final World Cup bow.
Subbed off with 21 minutes to go, Cahill however insisted that that there was no sadness over the suspension and heaped praise on his team for their determined outing against a strong Dutch outfit.
‘If I’m going out there to save myself from a yellow card then I shouldn’t be here,’ he said. ‘I play for moments and I’ve got five of the best moments in my life, today was my fifth World Cup goal.
‘This is my last World Cup and I wanted to leave everything here and as a nation we’ve won the respect of the world today. Regardless of being fearless or brave, you have to play football, and we played today and I’m pretty sure they didn’t expect that.’
Despite their opening 3-1 defeat to Chile and yesterday’s result, Australia have been widely lauded over the past two games for their resolute displays, having been written off going into the tournament in the face of such a competitive group.
One of the core veterans on manager Ange Postecoglou’s youthful squad, Cahill is the nation’s all-time top scorer and a veteran of three World Cups, with his five goals since 2006 more than superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney combined.
A Premier League stalwart for eight seasons with Everton, where his versatility, work rate and renowned aerial prowess earned him legendary status, the attacking midfielder-cum-forward scored 68 times in 278 total appearances for the club, while being one of English football’s largely most underappreciated players.
Ultimately departing for the New York Red Bulls in July 2012, the veteran was an MLS MVP candidate in 2013 and has continued to maintain his high standards for the North American club, despite increasingly battling age and injures.
His unweaning dedication to the national side ever-commendable, Cahill is set for one final hurrah with Australia at the 2015 Asian Cup on home soil, but his absence from the lineup for their last match in Brazil will nevertheless fill the occasion with a twinge of sadness, considering just how pivotal he has been to the setup over the past decade.