Tim Cahill says having Terry Antonis alongside him in the Socceroo camp for the Asian Cup is one of the proudest moments of his career.
Cahill has been nurturing Antonis, 21, for over a decade, teaching him the tricks of the trade from his base at Everton when he was with the Toffees in the EPL and back home in Australia.
Now the two are finally Socceroo teammates Cahill could not be happier.
“Honestly, for me this is one of the proudest moments as a footballer because of our relationship," Cahill told a packed media conference in Melbourne.
“It’s not a normal relationship. Terry’s not here because we’re mates, he’s here because what he’s produced and what he can do in the A-League.
“I really believed in Terry. He deserved that chance but needed the right pathway," said Cahill.
“I’m very proud. More for Terry and this family.
“I knew Terry when he was more or less a baby.
“But the thing I loved about Terry was his willingness to train.
“The ability he had on the ball was more than anyone I’ve seen. Which was one of the biggest things. He had everything,” Cahill said.
The Socceroo great admitted he was nurturing Antonis to be an EPL player with an emphasis on building his physique.
“He was quite skinny but we worked on that in the space of two to three years since we took him to Everton.
“He basically had a contract and all was organised… Terry was different to every other player because his ability on the ball and his vision.
“I’m proud of him and I didn’t know if we’d get this opportunity and to be honest we’ve spent the whole camp together and it’s only been two days.”
Cahill revealed Antonis’s father also trains his own sons.
“His dad picked up my kids at 6am so you know what sort of father that is. The driving force.”
The Sydney FC midfielder added: “He’s taught me lots of things, on and off the pitch. I’ve always looked up to him and everything he taught me it’s helped me.
“He always said keep working hard.”
Antonis knew a relative of Cahill’s during his school years and the relationship developed from there to now, as Socceroo teammates.
“Actually training together or playing FIFA, you can imagine what this camp will be like,” added Cahill with a smile.
“We stopped [playing FIFA] at 10-9 because he had to go to bed!”
Cahill finished off a remarkably affectionate press conference by taking a selfie with Antonis in front of the media.
Press conference done with my brother @terryantonis sorry about the media photobombing our picture. #TimCahillAsiaCup @tc4academy really proud to get the opportunity to be in a massive tournament with someone that has been close friend for years. #Family
A photo posted by Tim Cahill (@tim_cahill) on Dec 12, 2014 at 8:51pm PST
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