Cahill signing: the view from Asia

Asian football commentator John Duerden reflects on Tim Cahill's exploits across Asia as the Australian great settles into life at ambitious Melbourne City - a club that could qualify for a future ACL.

Tim Cahill will play for Melbourne City in the 2016-17 Hyundai A-League season. 

While fans in Australia will be able to see one of the country's greatest-ever players in the flesh week-in, week-out for the first time, the move brings to an end one of the most successful Asian spells enjoyed by an Aussie player.

His time in Asia is not over in terms of the Caltex Socceroos but when it comes to the Chinese Super League, that chapter has come to a close.

 The closest Cahill may have come to a trophy in China was the final of the 2015 FA Cup, but he achieved plenty regardless.

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A season at Shanghai Shenhua saw the 36 year-old win the hearts of the club's loyal followers with his goals, 11 in the league, but mostly due to his passion, leadership and desire to make the team - and team-mates - better.

Controversially released by the club ahead of the current season, he made the short trip - as many Shanghai families do at the weekend - to the pleasant and historic city of Hangzhou. 

There, he was charged with providing the experience to a young team.

It didn't go well in the beginning but results started to improve and Hangzhou look capable of avoiding relegation. 

Coach Hong Myung-bo paid tribute to Cahill who scored four goals in a half a season for a young and struggling side. “He has been a perfect example for the rest of the team. He is a true professional and leader.”

Tim Cahill

His best times in Asia have come in the green and gold. 

In 2007, just a year after his came off the bench to give Australia a come-from-behind win over Japan at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he was in South-east Asia, as Graham Arnold's men reached the quarter-finals.

A last-minute equaliser against Oman in the opening game was the standout in what was ultimately a slightly disappointing debut performance from Australia.

Four years later, it was better as the action moved to Qatar. 

Cahill scored twice in the opening 4-0 win over India but surprisingly, despite playing a major part in the team's run to the final, did not make the score sheet again, even in the 6-0 thrashing of Uzbekistan in the semi-final.

The best was the last as Cahill, fresh after his displays and that goal against the Netherlands at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, led his country to the continental title in front of 80,000 fans in Sydney.

Fittingly he scored the first as nerves started to jangle in the opening game with Kuwait. The West Asians took an early lead and with 12 minutes to the break, the unthinkable –a defeat in the curtain-raiser in Melbourne – was starting to enter minds of fans.

There was Cahill to level proceedings and assure everyone that it was all going to be OK. 

Two fine goals against China in the quarters - including an outrageous bicycle kick - meant that the Socceroos were on course for the trophy and helped cement his reputation and forthcoming move to the Middle Kingdom.

Socceroo striker Tim Cahill celebrates scoring against China in the AFC Asian Cup quarter-finals.

And there he was in the final after UAE were brushed aside in Newcastle, as Australia defeated Korea Republic 2-1. 

“He's such a tough opponent,” said Korean defender Kim Young-gwon. “He never gives you a moment to rest, he fights for everything and you have to concentrate every second.”

It was no surprise that when Cahill was released by Shanghai then there was swift interest in Japan and South Korea. 

Fans in the former will never forget the events of Kaiserslautern a decade ago while those in the latter are in awe of his heading ability.

Perhaps there will be time for a little more club interaction with the continent in the form of future AFC Champions League contests. 

First though is another qualification campaign for the FIFA World Cup. 

As everywhere else in Asia, Cahill excels at those.