Opinion

Why Australia should not let 'touchstone' Cahill drift away

0:00

The question for our game is, where to from here for Tim Cahill? And, by extension, all our other female and male greats, says former Socceroo Craig Foster.

Football has lacked a policy around legendary player farewells, seemingly becoming a matter for the current management of the day.

And the present scenario regarding Tim provides an opportunity to look at both career-ending pageantry and post-career inclusion.

A good start would be to provide an opportunity for a final, farewell game to any player with 100 caps or greater.

In Tim’s case, Graham Arnold should also be congratulated because, as a former champion himself, he understands the power of holding Tim up to the nation and what it means for the green and gold.

0:00

For Arnold, it is about building the value of the jersey, and the values within the jersey, and he knows how many greats have been discarded through the years.

It speaks volumes about how we perceive, respect, and treat our players, and also demonstrates to Australia the regard we have for our own.

Let this be a new benchmark, then.

But to truly be a statement about the position our players hold in their game, we need to work backwards as well.

To bring back the others who have been mistreated, marginalised and alienated.

Extraordinary that this can happen but natural when people in suits are seen as the saviours, the most important ingredient and the players as the means of production.

We need to overturn this fallacy.

The players are the saviours, the heart of the game, and the suits are the tools to enable them to perform, excel and protect the game’s values and essential essence.

When we all believe this, we have become a genuine football nation.

Lucas Neill would be a good start, a legendary performer and leader who somehow finds himself on the outer.

Imagine how he must feel, having given his life to the game and contributed in so many ways? It’s shocking and disheartening.

Marco Bresciano said recently, in one of the most damning and deeply sad comments by a legend that we have ever heard, that he wanted nothing to do with football.

This is an absolute indictment on the governors of the game. We should all be deeply embarrassed. I am.

Mark Viduka takes no part. Another close friend of his and a gentleman of the highest order, Josip Skoko, is scarcely seen though working away at grassroots in the game he loves and Frank Farina, a pioneer in every way, a gentleman whose forthrightness the game desperately needs, is barely involved, if at all.

Julie Murray and Cheryl Salisbury should be absolutely prominent in everything we do, front and centre of women’s football and government programs.

Johnny Warren had a gift for broadcast and an unparalleled vision and, yet, could only exist on the outer, on the occasional committee or government inquiry.

How far further would our game be had he been embraced and able to directly contribute? It would be a vastly different game, and culture, that much is certain.

Kosmina, Slater, Bosnich and others find their way, like me, in the media and we are fortunate to have the opportunity but too many others are left on the outside, when they have so much experience, knowledge and values to provide in service to their game.

Cahill is an extraordinary Australian, and we need to do more than show him we feel this way, we need to show Australia that they should as well.

And then to ensure he continues to play a major role in future.

Let’s not let him drift away like others, but work with him to place his name and legacy on high.

There are many initiatives we could undertake with Tim to grow the game, help the nation, aid social cohesion and embed our values in the future of the country.

0:00

Tim represents bravery, courage, inspiration, dedication, belief. All the things we want our game to be. And everything we want for Australia.

And while we’re at it, let’s reach out to our other legends as well, bring them back, take care of them when they’re in need and demonstrate that our game has finally learnt our lesson.

That our players are the most important touchstone of all.

Come back, please, all of you.