Age not a big factor for Cahill

MUCH has been said and written about Tim Cahill since his latest exploits in a Socceroos shirt - his two goals in the Asian Cup quarter-final win over China.

A lot of it has been about how he does it and where he ranks among this country's greatest sportsmen or women.

Not much has been written or said about Cahill's future, and just how long this phenomenal talent can keep producing at the highest level.

I wrote recently that like a good wine, Cahill seems to be getting better with age.

He has been superb for most of his career in the green and gold, but as his responsibility has grown and he has got older and wiser, Cahill just seems to get better and better.

His goals against China are up there with some of the best among the 39 he has scored for his country, more than any other player.

Cahill has now scored 11 of the 40 major tournament goals for the Socceroos and has become the first player to score in three World Cup and three Asian Cups.

His last two goals also moved him into the top 50 on the list of highest international goalscorers.

Now that's not a bad record for a 35-year-old, now playing in what some experts had suggested would be his final major tournament for the Socceroos.

Of course, to some, age is a barrier - you only have to look at teammate Mark Bresciano to see that his best days are behind him.

But in Cahill's case, he looks like he could go on forever.

Longevity in football, especially at international level, is certainly not a normal thing, but there are exceptions to the rule.

Roger Milla was reportedly 38 - although some say he could have been 43 - when he helped Cameroon to a World Cup quarter-final in 1990, while Lothar Matthaus was still playing for Germany at the 1996 World Cup as a 37-year-old, and earned his 150th cap for his country at 39 at the 2000 European Championships.

I see no reason why Cahill cannot go on further than this Asian Cup, even to the next World Cup in Russia, if the Socceroos get there.

Ange Postecoglou may have tapped the likes of Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill, Brett Holman and Luke Wilshire on the shoulder before last year's World Cup, but there is certainly no doubt that, playing the way he is, Cahill will be part of the coach's plans for the foreseeable future as we go into World Cup qualifying later this year.

If the striker (pictured) keeps playing the way he is, it looks like Postecoglou can still build a team around him for the next couple of years at least.

And who knows, by the time the World Cup in Russia comes along in 2018, there might just be a few more Socceroos playing at Cahill's high standards to give us a chance of succeeding on the world stage.

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