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Tim Cahill volley: Australian admits he was 'never the best' despite wonder goal against the Netherlands

Former Millwall and Everton man 'fought through adversity' his whole career

Millwall will be gratified to know that its part has been recognised in a goal of the Marco van Basten class, which will feature in compilations of the greatest World Cup strikes for years to come.

Tim Cahill, whose renaissance at this World Cup in a young Australian side of huge spirit, admitted in the aftermath of his volley against the Netherlands that he “was never the best player.”

Yet it was the New Den – and also Goodison Park – to which the 34-year-old ascribes the spirit which has seen him and his compatriots deliver such joy here.

It was observed after that strike against the Netherlands that Cahill has never possessed the talent of Mark Viduka, or the imagination of Harry Kewell. Yet he is the most important player in Australian football history now, integral to the wonderful campaign of 2006 and to the 2014 tour which has brought triumph of a losing kind. Those who have watched the nation at close quarters these past few weeks will tell you that it is Cahill’s enthusiasm with with the young – and not especially gifted - squad which has impressed the most. Some in the Australian press corps feared annihilation here. It has been anything but that.

“I suppose I have always fought against adversity in football,” Cahill said. “When you have a heart that you learned from Millwall and Everton and a knowledge how to play English style football, they can’t stop you and you produce moments like that today. I score goals like that every day in the garden so to do it on the biggest stage in the world makes me very proud.”

That adversity has come in many guises. The English audience which has marvelled at Cahill’s capabilities, now he is with the New York Red Bulls, might have forgotten that he did not win his long fight to play for Australia until the age of 23. That belief that he was not cut out for the greatness led him to play for the under-20 team of Samoa, where his mother was born, and it required a change of FIFA eligibility rules before he could play for Australia.

Cahill celebrates his wonder volley

 It was odd to see that strike in Porto Alegre coming from a No 4, though Cahill’s shirt number seems characteristic of his lack of pretension about being a great goalscorer. “[I wear the number] because I am a defensive attacking forward!” he said. “When you look at that number, it actually serves me well.”