It’s safe to say my interview with Australian football great Tim Cahill in the bowels of New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena didn’t quite go as planned.
Things got off to an inauspicious start when I misjudged the time it’d take to train from Harlem to Harrison. I slipped and fell in the rain while running to catch a connection and still got there late. Not a good start.
While I waited in the reception area, breaking news hit the television screens – David Moyes, Cahill’s former mentor at Everton, was taking over from Six Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Tim suddenly had a lot of outlets competing for his attention, and was a little edgy putting out anything on Moyes before he’d been able to issue a statement through official club channels.
But we got there in the end. I found him to be very polished and possibly his own biggest fan, but sincere and generous with his time.
The original interview exists only on the Wayback Machine now, so I’ve reproduced it in full below.
Tim Cahill on David Moyes and his New York state of mind
Australian football legend Tim Cahill is feeling right at home on the pitch with the New York Red Bulls, and Red Bull Australia caught up with the attacking midfielder just as big news surrounding his former Everton FC manager broke.
It’s the morning after the New York Red Bulls have racked up another important Major League Soccer victory, and the phones at New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena are ringing hot for their Australian midfielder, Tim Cahill.
It’s not just Cahill’s standout defensive effort in the team’s 2-1 win over joint ladder leaders the Montreal Impact that the world’s media want to talk about, but his former Everton FC manager David Moyes. The news has just broken that Moyes will be taking over the coveted manager’s post at Manchester United, replacing the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, and Tim couldn’t be happier for the mentor who gave him his start in the English Premier League in 2004.
“He signed me, he basically was a father figure in the fact that we spent eight, nine years together and everything on and off the park was so important to both of us,” says Cahill, shortly after recording an official video statement in the bowels of the 25,000 capacity stadium. “I’d run through brick walls for him, and I still would. He’s someone that I still talk to regularly, we text, and we texted again today after him getting the job.
“I wish him all the best. I’m so happy, so proud, no words can express. If anyone deserved that job it was him, and it’s a pretty special day for him and his family but a pretty sad day for Everton, because he’ll never be replaced.”
It’s a happy day, though, for Cahill and his Red Bulls teammates. They never looked like losing last night’s clash with their Canadian opponents, the victory highlighted by a spectacular bicycle kick goal by their captain and star striker, Thierry Henry.
Cahill and his French teammate are the faces of the Red Bulls’ 2013 campaign, and he’s enjoying the surreal sight of seeing himself not just on advertising material, but scaling a gigantic warehouse on the walk up to the team’s home ground. Not to mention the challenges of playing in the MLS, where he’s just starting to find his feet after three goals in the two games prior to last night’s.
“We’ve played quite a lot of games in the last four weeks, but I’m really happy to be involved in every game,” he says, adding that he’d had treatment on some niggling injuries in today’s recovery session. “Feeling fit, and the team’s flying which is the most important thing.
“Even last night I had a slight groin issue, but I feel good. I feel like in this league I can get maximum from my body and maximum from recovery. The level’s fantastic and you see some of the players playing on the pitch last night, whether it’s me, Juninho, Thierry – then on the other side [Marco] Di Vaio, [Alessandro] Nesta’s part of that team, Matteo Ferrari, Felipe [Martins], these are some of the biggest names that have played in Europe.
“The football for me is fantastic, and the facilities and the fans, they’re first class. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Cahill is loving life in New York City and locked into a long term deal with the Red Bulls, though his mind is never far from the Australian footballing family. He’s excited about the prospect of playing a role in the Socceroos’ upcoming all-or-nothing FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifiers, and also enthusiastic about the recent launch of his grassroots program for young Australian footballers in conjunction with Football Federation Australia and Foxtel.
“My dream is just to inspire kids to play football,” Tim says. “To be active, to be healthy – not so much to be the finished article, because as you get older and train you become better, and through your own determination and sacrifices one day you’ll get the opportunity. My main goal with Foxtel and my Tim Cahill Academy is just to make kids active; to be out and about having fun.”
Whether any Australian footballer will ever have as much fun as Tim did for the Socceroos at the 2006 World Cup in Germany is uncertain. Nearly seven years on from that fateful June day in Kaiserslautern, when Cahill came off the bench to kick Australia’s first ever World Cup goals in their 3-1 win over Japan, his memories of the day are still clear.
“That’s one of the most monumental moments in Australian football, and it’s something I’ll never forget,” he says. “It’s special, what you do as a footballer and the way you carry yourself. And that image – every single kid in the world knows who the first goal scorer in a World Cup [for Australia] was and that was Tim Cahill, and the second.
“That’s what I want kids to be inspired by. The humble kid that started with nothing that’s ended up with everything and is still the same person.”