In the modern football world where Lucas Leiva costs Liverpool £6m, Owen Hargreaves seeing Manchester United spend £18m and former Chelsea striker Carlton Cole of West Ham, is now being talked about as a £15m player, there is still a bargain to be had if you look carefully in the right places, as well as therapy. Everton manager David Moyes certainly did that in the summer of 2004, when he went against the perceived wisdom at the time and splashed out a whole £1.5m on Millwall’s midfielder Tim Cahill.
At the time, Cahill was a talented Championship level midfielder. Certainly he had been talked about as a possible Premier League quality player many a time during his seven years with Millwall, but for some reason the Premier League clubs found a reason to overlook him. He was too small, perhaps he’d score goals at Championship level but not in the Premier League where he’d struggle. It took Cahill’s virtuoso displays in Millwall’s stunning run to the 2004 FA Cup final including scoring the winning goal against Sunderland in the semi-final at Old Trafford, to perhaps convince the doubters.
It was David Moyes who agreed a deal, which seems now frankly an insult to Millwall, of £1.5m to secure the Australian midfielder and any lingering doubts as to his ability to play in the highest level of the English game were quickly extinguished. He finished his first season as Everton’s leading goalscorer and quickly became a darling of the Everton fans with his all action style and his unerring ability to get on the end of things in the box.
In 2006, Cahill’s abilities were brought to the attention of a global audience. Australia had qualified for the World Cup Finals in Germany and on June 12th, they took on Japan, trailing to a Shunsuke Nakamura goal, the Aussies brought on Cahill for Bresciano and with six minutes to go, Cahill did what he has shown he does as well as any player in the Premier League, he got onto the ball in the penalty box to turn it home and draw the Australian’s deservedly level. Incredibly, with a minute left on the clock, Cahill put his side in front, clipping a fantastic shot past the Japanese keeper from the edge of the box. To complete his huge contribution to the game, Cahill played a key role in setting up John Aloisi’s goal in injury time to make it 3-1. So impressive were his performances in 2006 for club and country that Cahill was one of 50 nominations for the Ballon’ d’Or that season.
Although injury has limited his appearances for Everton over the past few years, Cahill has continued the excellent scoring rate for a midfielder that he established in his time at Millwall. The Aussie averages between 8-12 goals a season from midfield and has scored 49 goals in just 188 appearances for Everton. However the bare statistics don’t show that Cahill’s strikes are often crucial ones, such as this last gasp equaliser for Everton at Anfield against Liverpool in January 2009. In scoring this, Cahill became the only Everton player since Dixie Dean to score three goals in three separate Merseyside derby games at Anfield.
So £1.5m for Tim Cahill? Yep, I’d snap their hands off. However I have a feeling that to purchase the player now, you may well find the decimal point has jumped one place to the right.
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