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Tim Cahill -smallest Kid, But Head And Shoulders


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Smallest kid, but head and shoulders above the rest


May 20, 2006 - Sydney Morning Herald




TIM CAHILL Balmain PCYC/Leichhardt Tigers




'This kid's got to make it' … Cahill, circled, with the Balmain PCYC team in 1986.


FIVE of the first six goals Tim Cahill scored for his country came from his head. An amazing vertical leap, superb technique, a sixth-sense in judging the flight of the ball - all qualities that have made a player of medium height so dangerous in the air.


Some of the qualities Cahill was born with, but the fine-tuning did not come naturally. It was learnt.


During his youth in Annandale, in Sydney's inner-west, Tim senior would take his sons, Sean, Tim and Chris, down to the park at the back of Johnson Street for training.


"You'd often see the boys down there, running through cones, doing sprints, doing passing drills," recalls John Burrows, a family friend and a former representative coach for Canterbury Districts. "There wasn't anything special about what they were doing, but you could see the old man had them pretty focused."


As it turns out, there was something special in Tim senior's repertoire. A ball, inside a netted bag, tied with a piece of string to the branch of a tree. This was how Tim learnt to head the ball and at least partly explains his uncanny aerial ability.


"I'd make Tim run flat out, jump up, and then head the ball," says his father. "He had to head it hard, and he had to get direction. Even in those days, I reckon he got 75, 80 per cent of his goals with his head."


There is a lot more to Tim's game, of course, than his strength in the air. Despite being one the smallest players on the pitch throughout his formative years - so much so that officials at Sydney Olympic once told him he'd never make it - his talent was always evident to those with a keen eye.


"I remember going down to Parry Park [Punchbowl] one Wednesday night to watch a trial game for the reps," says Burrows. "Tim was playing a year above his age group, but the way he held the ball, the way he laid it around, the way he never panicked even when he was under pressure - they're things you can't teach. It was almost too easy for him.


"Tim was a natural, you could see it even then. That night I left thinking, 'This kid's got to make it'. It's not often you get that feeling. It's something I've never forgotten. And I'm glad he's done so well. He's got a smashing family, and he's a great lad."


Michael Cockerill

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