King Cahill reigns as greatest ever Socceroo

The debate is over. There is only one king and his name is Cahill.

Before the World Cup started, Tim Cahill told FourFourTwo of how you must look for that one defining moment to make a difference. In Brazil, he saw it, took it - and then smashed it into the back of the Dutch net.

Within seconds of that volleyed superstrike against the Netherlands today, it was being hailed worldwide as the finest goal in World Cup history.

For Cahill, suspended now for the game against Spain, it will probably be his last at a World Cup...but what a way to go out.

It was more than the sheer technical elegance, self-confidence and opportunism of the goal though. Cahill's strike was symbolic of the New Australia and the Socceroos revival.

It came just 70 seconds after Arjen Robben had given Holland the lead.

Under Holger Osieck or Pim Verbeek - who had reportedly predicted before the game that we would not even score against the Dutch - we would have cautiously sat back and tried to regroup, only to succumb as a result.

Instead the New Socceroos bit back straight away.

Never a step backwards, they immediately pushed forward and struck while the Dutch were still drunk on goal celebration over-confidence.

Robben's World Cup goal-scoring stats were still showing on the big screen in the Porto Alegre stadium as Cahill suddenly squeezed the joy out of the Oranje fans. 

In the wake of his goal though, Cahill was not about to let the Dutch sucker punch us in return.

As the Dutch toyed with the ball in their own half, trying to tempt the Australians out of position and create space for the Dutch to exploit, Cahill was barking orders at the Aussie frontline, telling them to stand their ground.

His authority on the ground was absolute, his leadership relentless. 

His crunching tackle which sent Bruno Martins to hospital, and the subsequent yellow, cost him his spot against Spain but at the time it ensured Australia stayed in the match. The booking was inevitable, and the consequences severe but ultimately selfless.

When he finally came off, both orange and gold fans in the stadium rose to their feet as one to salute him. At full-time, both fans again flocked to the tunnel to applaud him for a final time. 

While the loss was heartbreaking for the Australian fans, every single head was held high. Has there ever been more pride in an Australian defeat?

The side written off by so many, ravaged by injuries, thrown together with only a handful of games to gel as a unit - this indefatigable band of battlers stared down worldbeaters and defied every expectation.

It was not flawless. Mistakes were made but the Socceroos got many more things right than they got wrong. Ange Postecoglou judged his preparations, tactics, selections and substitutions almost to perfection.

And underpinning it all, inspiring them to be fearless, to take their chances and believe in themselves was Cahill.

As I wrote before the Chile match, the falling away of the Socceroos' old guard and their big personalities created a vacuum Cahill has amply filled.

Not just a talisman, he actually is The Socceroos now. Ambassador, figurehead, leader, spokesman, hardman, matchwinner, hero, legend.

The question now is not whether he is Australia's Greatest Ever Player. That is now settled. 

The reality now is that he is one of the WORLD'S Greatest Ever Players, and it's been a privilege to see him play in green and gold.

Tim Cahill, we salute you.


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