England Legend Who Played With Ronaldo And Becks Says "I'd Take Timmy's Qualities"
It's the ultimate thumbs-up for Australia's greatest Socceroo.
Phil Neville is coach of the England Women's side and has played for two of the biggest clubs in England: Manchester United and Everton.
He's won the UEFA Champions League, six English Premier Leagues, three FA Cups and has 59 caps for England.
So when he says his great friend and former Everton team mate -- who plays his final Soceroos game against Lebanon tonight -- is a brilliant footballer, you know it's true.
“Give me Tim Cahill’s qualities more than any other player who’s got ability because you know what? The qualities that Tim Cahill’s got will have a longer career, they will probably be more successful.”
The two played at Everton together for over seven years, and shared in some great successes on the pitch.
Neville, who arrived at Everton from Manchester United where he'd played alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham, was drawn straight to the Australian legend.
“It was that winning mentality that drew me to him straight away and I have to say that we became really close friends.”
Cahill's greatest triumphs however weren't in the blue of Everton but in the green and gold of the Socceroos jersey.
Australia's first goal at a World Cup against Japan in 2006, the searing thunderbolt of a volley against the Netherlands in 2014 or perhaps the header against Syria that sent the Socceroos to the 2018 World Cup.
These are just a few of the multitude of moments that have made him into not just a great player, but an icon of Australian football.
Neville explained his old friend was never satisfied with simply taking Australia to major tournaments.
"He wanted to go to World Cups and not just go and have a swansong, but he wanted to go to the World Cup and make an impact."
But what made Cahill the player he is?
What makes him more of an icon than the likes of Kewell, Viduka or Neill?
Neville said it was as much about his winning mentality and desire as his natural talent.
“You see now the longevity he’s had in the game, that is through bloody mindedness, it’s through determination, that unbelievable attitude, that hunger, that appetite to be successful.”
Neville said it was this that set him apart, not only for the Socceroos but in the most competitive league in the world, the English Premier League. As with the Socceroos, Cahill was always the man for the big occasion.
“I always felt the bigger the game, the bigger the occasion, the more that he would grow and try and stamp his mark on the game.”
On the pitch, Cahill has one quality that shines above all the others.
Heading the ball.
For a man of his size, he is incredibly effective in the air, flying above towering centre backs again and again to power the ball into the net before proceeding to give the corner flag its traditional bashing.
“If you looked at Tim Cahill in a tunnel you’d probably think five foot ten, quite slight but if you put him on a pitch he would out-jump anyone on the pitch in both boxes.”
In fact he was so good, Neville would regularly compare him to the best footballer in the world.
“After every training session I’d say I wish your boots were on your head because you’d be better than Lionel Messi.”
Neville's affection for the Aussie legend is obvious and he perfectly summed up how just about every Aussie football fan feels about the legendary forward.
“He’s a brilliant, brilliant footballer and I’m proud to call him my friend.”
A ringing endorsement then from a man who's played at the very top of the game.
Aussie football fans can only hope that when Cahill steps out in a Socceroos game for the final time tonight, that he can have the ending that his career in the green-and-gold deserves.