Cahill on transfers, 'Korean Beckham' coach and Chinese football

Asian football expert @JohnnyDuerden reports on what Tim Cahill had to say when the China-based Aussie superstar spoke with South Korean media this week.

It's been a good few days for Tim Cahill. 

The 36 year-old is already off the mark in China for new club Hangzhou Greentown, helping the team to a 2-1 win over Changchun Yatai on the first weekend of the season. 

And he was then named in the Caltex Socceroo squad for upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Tajikistan and Jordan in Adelaide and Sydney respectively. 

“I want to keep playing for Australia and help us qualify for a fourth successive World Cup,” Cahill said this week in an interview with the South Korean media. 

“Last year was great for me. Before the World Cup qualifiers started, we won the AFC Asian Cup. I have been scoring goals and want to keep that form for my country. 

"For that, I need to do well for my club and train hard every day.

“I take care of myself...but at 36, it is unrealistic to have targets that are too high but I want to do well here and help Australia qualify for the World Cup.”

The former Everton man joined Shanghai Shenhua in 2015 and took to life in China from the beginning.

“China's tough. It's a physical league. There are more physical players than technical players and the away games are harder still but I like it a lot. 

"It's a new experience, culture, people, football, training - everything is different. We finished sixth with Shenhua which was better than the season before. 

"I played 28 games and scored 12 goals and played 15 times for Australia and scored 11 goals. It was a great year.”

Socceroos striker Tim Cahill celebrates scoring against Kuwait at last year's AFC Asian Cup.

After such a successful season, more impressive as it was a first in the country, it was a shock as Cahill was suddenly released by Shanghai in February. 

“Shenhua made a big decision...and is spending money in a bid to win. This is football. I have played for many big clubs and seen it happen before.”

Returning home was not on the cards. “At the time, I didn't have many options. I couldn't go to Australia as the transfer period had finished. 

"There were offers from seven to ten clubs from different leagues but only in Korea and Japan was the transfer window still open. 

"For six days I had no club and from a player's viewpoint, it was hard to believe. Everything moved quickly and I found the right club for me.

“Hangzhou offered me perfect conditions – a good coach, staff and young team that I think I can help develop. 

"The president explained to me what they wanted to do and in the end it was an easy decision. It was is also good that my family lives in Shanghai and it is only two hours by car.”

Tim Cahill is unveiled as a Hangzhou Greentown FC player after signing with the CSL club on Monday.

Cahill may be one of the top players in Asia but he is playing under a genuine continental institution in Hong Myung-bo. 

The Australian is hoping to emulate the South Korean, captain of the 2002 World Cup heroes and participant at four consecutive World Cups who also coached his country to bronze at the 2012 Olympics. 

“He is the Korean David Beckham and has played close to 140 times for the national team. 

"Clearly, he is a legend and I knew he was a strong leader. He has the Korean spirit and I knew what to expect and have been very impressed. 

"It is great to work with him. He is helping the young players and he wants to make the club better. That is also important for me.”

Hong Myung-bo

One question that has been asked many times in South Korea is where Cahill gets his heading ability from?

“It's training. At the gym you can build you legs and body but it is also timing," the Socceroo great explained. 

"You need to understand the build-up of each move, the timing of the cross and the timing of the run. You have to keep working hard.”