Tim Cahill thanked his family, team-mates, coaches and fans after bringing down the curtain on a glittering Australia career.
The 38-year-old forward came on as a substitute for the final 10 minutes of the Socceroos’ 3-0 friendly victory over Lebanon in Sydney.
He was unable to add a 51st international goal on his 108th appearance for his country after a Martin Boyle brace and Mathew Leckie’s second-half strike put the game beyond the overmatched visitors.
Having been granted a hero’s reception, Cahill addressed the crowd on the field at ANZ Stadium following the final whistle.
“I want to say thank you first to my family for being there from day one,” he said. “The sacrifices my family made for me is why every time I step on the pitch I’m fearless and I’m free.
“Secondly, I want to thank my team-mates and all the staff I’ve worked with. Without you guys I’d be nothing. The coaches and players who are not here, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.
“Now, the most important people – the fans. It was tough for me to play for Australia at the start and every time I wore the green a gold I played with my heart.
“I don’t want to keep you long, I just want to tell you all this is as much for you as it is for me. Thank you very much Australia.”
I’m not crying, you’re crying
— Caltex Socceroos (@Socceroos) November 20, 2018
Cahill then spoke to Fox Sports, flanked by his four children, and reflected on an unforgettable career that featured appearances at four World Cup finals, Asian Cup glory and numerous superb goals.
He conceded the reception he received on the touchline when preparing to replace Aaron Mooy brought a tear to his eye.
“I wanted to break down on the side of the pitch when the fans were cheering me just to come on. I found it hard to keep my emotions in. It’s the first time I’ve cried on a football pitch,” he said.
“I’m proud because I’m leaving the game on such a high. This is such an amazing night. This shirt means everything to me. I’ve always put my country first.”
Cahill will return to club action with Jamshedpur in the Indian Super League, having played top-flight football in England, the United States, China and Australia.
“It’s a bit surreal, I still can’t believe I’ve retired as a Socceroo. My kids are crying but we can watch some videos now of the old footage,” the 38-year-old added.
“We’ve booked a beautiful holiday for while the lads are in the Asian Cup. I can go and watch any game now. Just being an Australian and enjoying the sport is the best thing for Tim Cahill right now.
“Now I’m on the other side of the fence and I’m so thankful to everyone. If you want the big things to happen, the different between being good and great is to produce on the big stages and it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.”
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