Sport Football Red sunset: Cahill chases Chinese riches in Shanghai

Red sunset: Cahill chases Chinese riches in Shanghai

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It might have been the first time Tim Cahill has disappointed Australia.

The greatest, most committed Australian footballer of all time announced he had made the move to join Chinese team Shanghai Shenhua on Tuesday morning.

One couldn’t help but feel deflated when Cahill revealed his destination live on subscription television. Fresh off the back of our greatest football triumph in the Asian Cup, a move back to the A-League would have been a fitting final step in the forward’s career.

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You’d think we’d know by now, there are no fairytales.

Certainly not in China’s rather optimistically named Super League, and not with Shenhua – the club that played host to the disastrous Chinese holidays of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.

Drogba was reportedly making US$200,000 per week, yet left after six months.

Speaking on Fox Sports on Tuesday, Cahill said he was committed to growing the game in Asia and that he had ‘no realistic offers’ from A-League clubs.

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I suppose, it depends on your definition of realistic. It depends on what you want to get out of life. It depends on how much money is enough.

“I’ve done the Premier League, I’ve done America. New York was amazing for me … (but) China is a growing market in football,” he said.

Didier Drogba's spell with Shanghai Shenhua was a disaster. Photo: Getty
Didier Drogba’s spell with Shanghai Shenhua was a disaster. Photo: Getty

“You see in the (Asian Cup quarter-final) game that we played against China, millions of people watched it and I’m someone who is embracing culture and a different aspect of life.”

“I’m at an age where I want to give something back to football and still play at a high level.”

Cahill also spoke of his desire to ‘try different leagues’.

Well, Australia is a different league.

Imagine all those youngsters with the name Cahill on the back of their Socceroos shirts being able to turn up to see him playing for Sydney FC or Melbourne Victory.

It would have been bigger than Alessandro Del Piero and Harry Kewell combined. Imagine what it would do to a club like Melbourne City’s attendances?

Even thinking of criticising Tim Cahill feels vaguely blasphemous.

As one tweeter wisecracked during the Asian Cup, Superman wears Tim Cahill pyjamas.

His deeds in yellow have helped grow football in this country immeasurably, and he’s provided more warm memories than Bert Newton.

Sure, we may well see him in Australia one day. Let’s hope he’s still got some miles left on his odometer.

Perhaps after an entire career of dedicated service we owe it to Cahill to leave him be and maximise his earning potential while he’s able.

Tuning in to Cahill’s announcement, with speculation rife he would head to the Middle East and the riches on offer there, it was no surprise he wasn’t coming back to Australia.

But for a man who has thrilled his country so often in the past, there was a little part of everyone watching hoping he’d drop the bombshell that he was coming home.

And to see him head to China, to embrace ‘the culture’, was disappointing.

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