Cahill began his playing career at Villa Park, and he has named three Villa coaches as being important to his development, in an interview with the official Chelsea website.
The centre-back said: “Gordan Cowans, he was technically gifted and wanted to put his stamp on the team, getting us to play football and keep the ball. We also had Tony McAndrew and Kevin MacDonald, they were really strict but both excellent coaches. Looking back now they certainly had an impact on my career and that’s probably why they’ve had so much success with players coming through.”
Cahill made 30 appearances for Villa before leaving the club to join Bolton in January 2008. His first-team debut for the Birmingham-based club came in 2006, but prior to that he had spent time with Burnley on loan, winning their Player and Young Player of the Year award for the 2004/05 season.
Commonly regarded as one of the best central defenders in the Premier League, and a full England international, Cahill is also an adept ball-player, and his development in his youth came from starting in the midfield positions before being dropped into a deeper role.
He names Cowans as a key figure in his development, and that has probably helped in his ability with the ball at his feet, as the coach wanted Villa to play attractive, pass-and-move football.
The 29-year-old is also praised for his concentration and commanding personality, and that is likely thanks to McAndrew and MacDonald - who he calls ‘strict’ coaches.
Aston Villa are well known to be the football club that has produced the most England internationals, and Cahill is just one of many players to have started his career with them. Considering he has praised the Villa coaches for his development, maybe it is no surprise that the club have produced so many internationals in their past.