‘Still in the group chat’: Cahill’s Socceroos ‘mentor’ plan
TIM Cahill will pull on the green and gold one last time - but his association with the national team won't end there as he plans to stick around as the team's unofficial mentor.
Football Federation Australia has confirmed the Socceroos' greatest ever goalscorer will come out of retirement for a farewell match against Lebanon on November 20.
But beyond that, the 38-year-old will play a leadership role.
Cahill said on Tuesday he had been mentoring the current squad for the past four years and planned to continue to do so.
"I've been grooming the next players for the last four years especially about consistency and playing for their club," Cahill said.
"I've been grooming them for goals with their clubs.
"Repetition, repetition when you do it for your club you do it for your country.
"For me there's goals, but now it's about doing it on the international stage when it counts.
"The effort you put in for your club has to be the same standard you put in for your country, I've done it my whole career and it takes a massive toll on your body.
"We'll be okay, we'll be fine."
The prolific striker, who has 50 international goals to his name, is looking forward to seeing his teammates defend their Asian Cup crown in January,
"We're going to defend the Asian Cup and we've got the players to do it," he said.
"I'm excited by the opportunity for us to do well again, the boys will be fine, the Asian Cup is a platform to go on a win.
"These kids are like robots, they're so professional and driven.
"Even when Bert (van Marwijk) took over he was so surprised with our attitude, professionalism and how much we put into preparation."
Cahill isn't planning on turning his back on the game in Australia and insists the main reason for not rejoining the A-League - instead opting to continue his club career in India - is to stay neutral and to help out from the outside as much as possible.
"Anyone in the A-League can ask me advice - I feel like I'm on neutral ground and I'm in a really good space," he said.
"The A-League needs to support. It's the biggest game inside Australia among kids and we need to work together to lift it and let it grow instead of always hindering it.
"It's our game, it's Australian.
"I'm still in the group chat, when ever the boys need anything, I'm speaking to Arzani constantly at Celtic.
"New leaders need to step up, they're not kids anymore, they're out-and-out Socceroos, they're experienced and they're ready.
"I want to be neutral. I want to help everyone, I'll mentor constantly and I'll constantly be overseeing.
"I'll be here four to five times a year to make sure I'm supporting the game."
The Socceroos take on Lebanon on November 20, which will be Graham Arnold's first game in charge and Cahill's last as a player.
Cahill confirmed his Indian Super League move would probably be his final club stint.
Just as the Socceroos legend retired from international football after the World Cup, he also plans to hang up the club boots for good after a swansong season with new club, Jamshedpur FC.
That could be followed by a coaching career, for which he's already in the process of earning his badges.
"India will probably be my last hurrah," Cahill said.
"It was something that really excited me, honestly.
"As one of the main players for that league at 38 years old, then my job is to be accountable and make sure I go there in the best shape possible and do well on the pitch, because that's what I represent.
"My leadership skills off the park, how I can change that club and infuse a team, that's what I do best.
"I've played everywhere in the world - England, America, China, Australia - and it was definitely something I wanted to tick off, whether it was exploring the TV opportunities (or playing)."
Cahill had previously ruled out an A-League return due to his desire to live in the US, prompting speculation he might return to the MLS.
But he reasoned the nine-month American season was too long a commitment while also working on his coaching qualifications and balancing family time and business.
And while "there were a lot of other options", the six-month ISL campaign finishing in March was the most doable.
Cahill sought advice from several high-profile friends about India, including former Australian pace bowler Brett Lee.
"I can't do the stuff I'm doing off the park, commercially, business and family (in the US)," he said.