Cahill says sorry after anger over handcuffs gesture

The Everton midfielder Tim Cahill yesterday apologised "wholeheartedly" for any offence caused by his goal celebration against Portsmouth on Sunday. Cahill had dedicated the goal to his brother, who was convicted in January of grievous bodily harm with intent, by pretending his wrists were in handcuffs.

The Everton midfielder then ran to the corner flag and punched it several times – his trademark celebration. It is the first time that Cahill has publicly acknowledged older brother Sean's six-year sentence for partially blinding a man.

The 28-year-old said: "I am aware of the significant media coverage following my unusual goal celebration against Portsmouth. It was a spontaneous and emotional reaction but was only intended to signify to my brother that I was thinking of him and missing him. It was not intended to cause any offence to any other party and I wholeheartedly apologise if any offence was caused."

Sean Cahill was jailed after punching and kicking a man during a fight outside a taxi office in Bromley, south-east London.

Sean Cahill had been out with the Everton players at a nightclub in the area that night, but his brother Tim left early. The attack took place in 2004, but Sean fled the country and was only brought to justice after his extradition last year. A police source said the victim, quantity surveyor Christopher Stapley, has since left the UK after his life was "wrecked" by the attack.

An Everton spokesman yesterday defended Cahill from criticism that the celebration was inappropriate. He said: "Goal celebrations are a personal matter and up to the player to decide – no one dictates what the player can do as long as he stays within the laws of the game, as long as it doesn't result in a caution.

"It clearly was a very personal thing. Anyone who saw the pictures will see he was emotional and it meant a lot to him. Tim is a highly intelligent young man and makes his own decisions and saw fit to send a message to his brother, if that's what he was doing."

Everton's record signing Yakubu claims he can "feel" the goals in him as the Merseysiders chase European qualification on two fronts. Yakubu, who cost Everton £11.25m when he moved from Middlesbrough in August, also believes their side is "one of the best" he has played in and that they can reach the Uefa Cup final.

Yakubu has hit 19 goals in 27 games as Everton cling to fourth place in the Premier League and potential Champions League qualification, while preparing for tomorrow's Uefa Cup last 16 first eg away to Fiorentina, who won away to Juventus in Serie A at the weekend.

A confident Yakubu, who will fly out this morning with the rest of the Everton squad, said: "I just believe in myself and when you score you believe you can score more and you can feel the goals coming.

"I believe whenever I have a chance, I can score. That is what I want to do because I am a striker and I enjoy it. I take every game as it comes and when I have a chance I believe I can score, so I will keep scoring.

"As a striker your job is to score goals and when I signed I thought I would be under pressure but I am not. I know that if I do not score then there are people in the team that can. We have quality strikers ready to come off the bench, that keeps the pressure in a good way, because it is not all down to me. To me, it is just like training.

"I think that at the moment this is one of the best teams I have ever played in. To play in Europe and to have not been beaten yet in the Uefa Cup, and the fact that we have quality players, means we can get into the Uefa Cup final.

"If we keep believing in ourselves and say that we want to be in the final, then I believe we can do it."

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