Socceroos superstar Tim Cahill has not totally ruled out one day playing in the Hyundai A-League but claims his move to China will be just as beneficial for football in Australia.
Cahill announced last week he was joining Chinese Super League Club Shanghai Shenhua on a deal reportedly worth close to $10million.
While Australian fans were hoping the 35-year-old – the Socceroos greatest-ever goal-scorer - would have returned home to play in the domestic competition, Cahill says this next chapter of his career will be just as important for the local game.
“This is much more of an impact on Australian football I feel than as a player, purely because of my actions as a footballer for the Socceroos,” Cahill said at the Sydney launch of New Balance on Monday.
“Every time I play, I play like it’s going to be my last game, every time I’m in camp I try and help lead the group and really try and influence them mentally on what makes them tick.
“I’ll never rule it out (playing in the A-League) but if I’m going to do anything in Australia it’s going to be grassroots first.
“I’m an ambassador for football. Being in New York, being in Shanghai, with the relationships that I’m going to bring to Australia with football and sponsorship is a whole different element which people don’t understand.
"Regardless of what anyone thinks of the move, people will read about what I am doing in China. I want to do well on the pitch and off the pitch for Australia. I will make all the right noises."
There has also been speculation that Cahill could become the owner of a new Hyundai A-League club in years to come.
While he didn’t rule it out, Cahill indicated it wasn’t something that was on his agenda just yet.
"I feel that moving forward if something was to happen it would be a conversation I would have face to face with David Gallop and Frank Lowy," he said.
"There's always going to be people talking about me being an owner, and who knows... but at the moment it's no."
Proud to announce my partnership for Grassroots football in Australia @nbfootball @newbalanceaustralia @newbalance @tc4academy This is a massive moment for me help kids follow their dreams. #OurKidsAreOurFuture
A photo posted by Tim Cahill (@tim_cahill) on Feb 8, 2015 at 8:09pm PST