‘Something special’: Cahill up for the challenge
TIM Cahill believes new coach Bert van Marwijk can help Australia achieve "something special" at the World Cup and the Socceroos all-time leading goalscorer is prepared to challenge himself at the highest level to be there.
In what's likely to be the 38-year-old's final chapter as a footballer, Cahill completed a sensational return to Millwall 14 years after he left the English Championship club.
A large part of Cahill's motivation is to make it to his fourth World Cup, where he believes the Socceroos' Dutch coaching duo of van Marwijk and Mark van Bommel will create the professional environment needed for the Socceroos to reach their potential.
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"They've had decorated careers, both as a duo, and van Bommel as a player and van Marwijk a coach," Cahill told The Daily Telegraph.
"I can only respect that they're taking on a massive job in helping us do something special at the World Cup. I think their portfolio is amazing and as a country we should embrace that coaches of their calibre are coming for the ride to do something special.
"Their experience is massive for us and, being a younger team, I think the lads are going to learn a lot."
Cahill isn't content with just making it to the World Cup. He is believed to have paid over $500,000 just to get out of his contract with Melbourne City so he could chase his dream of challenging himself at the highest level.
He didn't have anything concrete lined up when he made the bold decision to leave City in December, he just knew he needed an environment that would allow him to be in peak physical and mental condition to compete.
"The easy option was to stay at Melbourne City and just be a passenger, but that's not my style," Cahill said.
"People questioned my decision - there aren't many 38-year-olds who have gone back to the top leagues, especially after going home to the A-League.
"But I can't teach kids to follow their dreams and break barriers if I pick the easy option.
"At Millwall I've got a good manager (Neil Harris), a great environment, fantastic fans and a challenge, because you've got to go out there and do the business every time. If it's 15 minutes, then make it the best 15 minutes of your life.
"I want people to look at me challenging myself. Let's put game time aside, there's no comparison between sitting on the bench in the A-League and sitting on the bench in the Championship. There are a lot of players who would give everything to sign a contract in the Championship and I want to make sure I fulfil my last chapter, potentially, as a footballer.
"My first objective is to get fit to play for Millwall and my motivation is to get somewhere in the best physical shape and be competitive enough to challenge myself to compete, if selected, for the World Cup."
His return to Millwall is the stuff of fairytales, but there's also hard work ahead and Cahill isn't about to rest on his laurels.
"I'm ambitious, but I'm also realistic," he said.
"It's a dream come true to finish like this. I thought it would be in the A-League, I thought it would be helping the league, but I'm someone that's too ambitious to go through the basic things. If players want to go to the World Cup or play at the highest level, you have to test yourself."