Tim Cahill

What does the World Cup mean to you? It means everything to me. Growing up, it’s how I got to learn about the football greats like Pele, Eusebio, Beckenbauer and Maradona. Toto Schillaci at Italia 90, Romario four years later and Roberto Baggio when he kicked that penalty over the bar – they’re all moments you never forget. It’s the biggest tournament in the world and it means everything to me because I’m so passionate about football and about playing for my country. To be involved in the last World Cup was a real privilege and I can’t wait to be involved in this one.

Exclusive interviews: 32 players from 32 nations

What was the first World Cup you remember watching?
It’s hard to pinpoint a particular World Cup because I have so many memories and many of them have come from watching videos of past World Cups. I’ve been watching football since I was a baby and I’ll still watch DVDs today so it’s tough to pick a favourite tournament.

I guess the first one I remember watching live was Italia 90. Schilacci and what he did at that World Cup was amazing. It seemed he created a whole buzz around the country. He would score a goal and run off like crazy. His eyes were so open, he didn’t have much hair, his legs were so powerful and his arms were all over the place when he scored, but those are the things that you remember.

Who did you support when you were watching the World Cup?
I kind of jumped on the bandwagon a bit so I really got behind Italy in 1990. I loved Ruud Guillit and Holland, I loved Bebeto and Romario for Brazil in 1994, and Lineker and Barnes for England. I use to collect cards so it sometimes depended on which cards I had. I remember having players like Campos from Mexico and Francescoli of Uruguay, so I basically supported everyone because I watched every game.

What are the hopes and expectations for the Australia team at this World Cup?
After the way we played at the last World Cup and the way we played in qualification this time around, the expectations have gone through the roof. People at home are expecting us to get through the group and go even further than that. It’s great to have that expectation, and as players we look back at how we did at the last World Cup and think we can do a lot better.

The way we got knocked out against Italy to a penalty in the 90th minute when they were down to ten men was pretty disappointing. It was a case of so near but yet so far, but the real positive is that Italy went on to win the World Cup so it shows how good we are. Now, though, we just have to take each game as it comes and if we get through the group then we’ll see how far that takes us.

What do you think of your group?
It’s a very tough group. Germany are very disciplined and in every competition they are there or thereabouts. They’ve got a great record and are always tough to beat. Ghana are strong and aggressive and can run all day. They’re powerful and skilful and can be quite unpredictable so you never know what you’re going to come up against on the day. Serbia are probably the toughest team in our group so we won’t take anything for granted and we just have to take every game as if it’s our last and battle for 90 minutes.

Do you think the Australia team of 2010 is better than the 2006 version?
Every single player plays in the one of the big leagues in the world and in the toughest competitions. We’ve lost a lot of experience from 2006 but we’ve gained a lot of young legs and the young players that were involved in 2006 are four years older now. It’s a hard one but there seems to be a rejuvenated freshness about the team. The way we qualified in the Asian group was a great experience and a tough one, involving lots of travel and playing some tough teams, so to come through that w

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