Tim Cahill took inspiration from the legendary Manchester United players he played against in the 2004 FA Cup final with Millwall and used it to forge a very good Premier League career. The Australian was the star player on the Lions team that shocked everyone by reaching the Millennium Stadium showpiece 17 years ago, with Cahill scoring the winning goal in the semi-final against Sunderland at Old Trafford. There was to be no fairytale moment in the final, as United ran out comfortable winners on a 3-0 scoreline, claiming their 11th victory in the competition’s history against the 10th-placed team in the second tier. That particular United side could be reasonably described as being a transitional one, featuring a mix of veterans such as Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, and a raft of younger players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea. Although Cahill ultimately came away with a runners-up medal, he has now revealed that the experience of that day meant he came away with a lesson that was just as valuable.
Tim Cahill said: “I remember (assistant manager) Ray Wilkins saying to me to take in this moment and understand where you are. To the realisation of getting there and to enjoy the experience. And I’ll be honest, the final had already been played – it was at Sunderland. We knew we were massively up against it. We also knew that the mindset was to try and win, and when you look at the pairings of who you’re playing against and the teams, it was miles away. But at the same time, we had Dennis Wise and Ray Wilkins at the helm and big characters that were in the changing room that were motivating; that were talking about what we could leave on that pitch; what we could leave for Millwall. It was very special. It’s hard to put into words, because everything went so quick. I remember swapping jerseys, I think with Ruud van Nistelrooy and looking at players like Roy Keane and thinking to myself: ‘they’re winners because of that, because of their application.’ You look at Ryan Giggs, the Nevilles, Rio Ferdinand and all these sorts of players and you’re just like: ‘one day you’re going to be there.’ You don’t know what path you’re going to take and how you’re going to get there, but I just thought to myself: ‘eventually I’m going to be playing against you guys more regularly.'”
Cahill would go on to join Everton in a deal worth £1.5 million that very summer, scoring 56 goals in 226 Premier League appearances during an eight-year spell at Goodison Park, fulfilling the realisation he had on the pitch on FA Cup final day.
/ 17 hours ago
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