Tim Cahill has hailed Sydney FC’s recruitment of Socceroos team-mate Brett Emerton as the biggest coup in Australian football history.
Emerton, 32, was unveiled as the Sydney’s new marquee player last week and was part of a double-barrelled marketing success for the A-League ahead of the 2011-12 season, with Harry Kewell having previously committed to the Melbourne Victory.
Emerton’s three-year deal, along with Kewell’s move to Victory, will undoubtedly go down among the A-League’s most prolific signings, following in the footsteps of former international stars Robbie Fowler and Dwight Yorke.
But Cahill, in town for Australia’s World Cup Asian qualifier against Thailand in Brisbane on Friday night, had no hesitation in declaring Emerton’s signing as the single greatest in Australia’s young footballing history.
“For me, Brett Emerton is the heart and soul of the Australian team,” said Cahill.
“He’s a player that goes about his business very quietly, and to find out about him signing for Sydney FC; it has to be the biggest catch in the history of Australian football.”
“He’s a machine and he’s probably the best pro I’ve ever trained and worked with.”
“I just think Sydney FC are very clever and it’s good for the youngsters, good for the game, but mainly the players that he plays with, (because) he gives everything.”
Cahill’s assertion comes despite the common consensus being that Kewell’s introduction to the A-League will have a far greater impact on the league’s fan marketability and media attention.
Rumours of a less than amicable relationship between the Socceroos’ two biggest stars have circulated for years, and Cahill’s brusque response to questions on the impact of Kewell’s absence didn’t do much to suggest a thaw.
The Everton goal-scoring machine talked up the dynamic in the current squad and said that he was excited about the potential among the young talent in camp.
“Of course you’re going to miss experience, but if you’re here you’re here and if you’re not you’re not,” said Cahill.
“What we’ve had in the last couple of games, you see the players that have come in … the depth’s fantastic.”
“For me, I focus on what we have here and the players that bring so much to the team.”
“We’ve always got our experience and we’ve got players that have added spice, but I was really impressed against Wales with our training, our mindset and how we’d just get on with football and the goals would just seem to come quite naturally to the team and the football is flowing quite well.”