Want to be more than marquee player: Tim Cahill

Australian football legend Tim Cahill, who is one of the high profile recruits for the next edition of Indian Super League, said he would look to be more than just a marquee signing for Jamshedpur FC. The 38-year-old Australian record goalscorer has announced his international retirement after playing in Russia World Cup this year but is not ready to hang up his boots completely just yet.

“With three Asian Cup and four World Cup appearances, I would like to contribute on the park as much as off it,” Cahill, who scored 50 goals for Australia in a career spanning 14 years, told reporters Saturday, on the sidelines of ISL Media Day. Having debuted last season as part of ISL’s expansion to 10 teams, Jamshedpur finished a creditable fifth in their maiden campaign. “I take great pride in playing and training. I would look to add more value than just be a marquee signing.”

Asked whether his age will come in his way with the long ISL season stretching from September 29 to March next year, the former Everton legend said: “It’s only 18 matches per season with good number of breaks in between.”

“I’m used to playing 30-40 matches per season. It’s not long for me, it’s very short I would say. I would give my best.” Cahill was all praise for Jamshedpur FC and said they tick all the boxes as far as structure and professional goes, something that made him join the club.

“The professionalism, the set up the academy, the training ground and the future of the club really impressed me. Here at Jamshedpur FC, we have no distraction as players. We have our complex, training pitch, gym and an upcoming swimming pool. It’s the perfect vision to help Indian football grow, something that excited me.”

“The personal goal is to improve my team and see the right results. We have a great blend of foreign and Indian players including three from the (Tata Football) Academy that speaks volumes of our team building. Taking the talent making them represent the country is our goal.”

Cahill received a warm welcome in Jamshedpur by the city fans with drum beats and dance. “When I got to Jamshedpur, the first thing noticed was it’s green, there’s not much of traffic and loads of fans — beautiful people, football and family. We are together 24×7 in the academy. This the environment I want to be in, this is professional football,” he said. “We are trying to be pioneers and be an example. We are focused in making a good structure something that the fans can be proud of. We want to make sure to tell the right story to the fans. It’s on TV everywhere, it’s global. like cricket, like anything.”

Cahill will miss Jamshedpur FC’s opener against Mumbai City FC, serving a three-match ban handed by the Football Association for his tussle in his last match for Milwall against Fulham. Having scored a brace against him seven years ago in their 4-0 win over India in the Asia Cup, Cahill will play with goalkeeper Subrata Pal.

“I’m sorry for scoring,” Cahill told Pal, seated on the same dias. I’m lucky enough to play against India. It was a memorable match. We swapped jerseys, took photos. I’ve some great memories. The most important thing is respect,” he said.

Few of Jamshedpur players complained of hectic travelling as they have to go to Ranchi, about three hours by road or rail, to board a flight for their away matches. “We are professional footballers, four hours by train, no problem. We are a good group of players who are very humble and gel as a team,” he signed off.