Fearless Cahill does it again

Tim Cahill does it again. For a nation in search of a banner, a slogan, a call to arms, as we go into the World Cup and our epic battles against football giants, he nailed it in just one word.

Fearless.

Skipper Mile Jedinak's Wait and See offers hope and expectation, but "fearless", fearless is exactly what we need to be.

We might not get a point, or even a goal, but the Aussie spirit demands we take it to the world and try. Not one step backwards etc etc etc. Fearless.

Take it away, Tim: "This is about players who are going to be fearless," he told us today. "When you are fearless, things happen in a game.

"In 2006, I scored two goals in the World Cup. I was fearless. Who knew I was going to do that? Hopefully it would be the same situation for some of these young lads."

At training today, he was the first player to take to the field. He may have been the last to leave it too, but unfortunately the session was closed to the media as soon as they finished their warm up so we don't know.

But while Jedinak has the captain's armband for this campaign and beyond in a decision made with the future in mind, it's clear who is actually the real leader among the squad.

Cahill's role in the Socceroos today is beyond compare. While the Golden Generation veterans around him were culled or retired, not once did anyone seriously suggest Cahill should join them on the Socceroo scrapheap.

In truth, if anything, the retirements have strengthened his position in the squad, with some strong personalities - and public images - falling by the wayside, allowing Cahill not just to step up but to LEAP into the charismatic leader's role like one of his trademark headers.

There has of course always been a lot of love for Cahill, most pointedly from that moment he scored his brace against Japan, although he had already started carving out a reputation for himself long before.

But despite being Mr Reliable on the field - the man you turn to when you need that goal, always (ALWAYS) turning up for any game anywhere - until recently, he did very little press. When his public profile seemed to overtaking some other established stars, there was a (strategic?) leak about his celebrations at a Sydney night club, in an apparent attempt to peg him back.

While it didn't do much for Cahill's opinion of the press, it barely dented his reputation in the public's eyes. Australia loves a winner - and there are few winners like Cahill.

Even when his career seemed to be drawing to a close, struggling for game time at Everton in the EPL, he moved to the MLS, played alongside Thierry Henry - and reinvigorated his fortunes all over again.

From a football perspective and the public's point of view, he was The Socceroos. By the time the World Cup neared, his was the only face editors wanted on the cover of their World Cup specials (a plan hindered greatly at the time by the lack of pics of Cahill in the new strip... If you look at a newsagent shelf, you'll see the same shot over and over and over again!)

He is now without doubt the main man in the Socceroos squad, and with good reason. But his growth in handling that has been outstanding - from the apparently quiet, shy Socceroo who could out leap keepers for key goals, he has now become the focal point of the Socceroos, the voicepiece of the players, and the inspiration for a generation - and bears it like he was born to it.

In press conferences, he is eloquent, calm and collected. In person, he is polite and respectful. On the field, he is plain lethal.

Harry Kewell may have been recently voted Australia's Greatest Ever Footballer, but if we can get anything out of this World Cup campaign, Tim Cahill may want a recount...