Tim Cahill and Robbie Keane have quite a few things in common; They performed two of the most iconic celebrations ever seen in the English Premier League and they have earned admiration from the whole football world during their impressive careers.
Cahill’s illustrious career began in the late 1990’s as he relocated to England from Sydney, Australia and signed his first professional contract with Millwall. He quickly established himself as a fan-favourite amongst the Lions fans and he had an enjoyable six-years in South-East London.
The Australian played part in a promotion season in 2001 as Millwall were crowned champions of the Football League Second Division (Now known as League One) with a club record 93 points.
Fast-forward to 2004, Cahill played a key role in taking Millwall to their first-ever FA Cup final. He had scored the winning goal in the semi-final against Sunderland and was awarded the FA Cup ‘Player of The Round’ for his efforts. Unfortunately, The Lions were beaten by Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in the final, which happened to be Cahill’s last-ever appearance in a Millwall shirt.
Premier League club Everton came knocking and secured Cahill’s signature for a fee of £1.5million. He had a successful first season with the Toffees as he was named the fans’ Player of the Season after finishing the season as the club’s top scorer.
It was at Everton where Cahill made a serious name for himself. He introduced the world to his ridiculously impressive heading technique, as well as his ability to jump and rise above defenders which was incredible for a man standing at 5ft 11.
Also, whilst at Everton, he produced one of the most iconic celebrations ever witnessed during the Premier League era. After putting the ball in the back of the net, he would demonstrate some shadow boxing in front of the corner flag before giving it a good whack. It became synonymous with his game and is something he still does to this day.
After Cahill’s time on Merseyside came to an end, he left England for a new adventure and became a Designated Player with Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls. He broke records during his time in the States as he scored the fastest goal in MLS history; a sweet volley after just eight seconds against Houston Dynamo. The record was subsequently broken in 2015 by Mike Grella who also happened to be playing for the Red Bulls.
Once upon a time, the New York Red Bulls had Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips leading their line. Despite that, Cahill’s only success with the Red Bulls came in 2013 when they picked up the Supporters’ Shield. Ultimately, they couldn’t add the cherry on top with an MLS Cup as they fell at the first hurdle in the playoffs.
His time in Major League Soccer came to its conclusion in 2015 following a mutual agreement and he went on to explore China. He signed for Shanghai Shenhua where his only success was reaching a Chinese FA Cup final. It was the third FA Cup final defeat of his career, as he also fell short with Millwall and Everton during his time in England. He left the Shanghai club in 2016 but remained in China and signed for Hangzhou Greentown. That spell only lasted five months because of a decision to return to Australia for his family.
In January this year, Cahill made a romantic return to where it all began – Millwall. It wasn’t the dream return he would have hoped for as he only made 10 appearances and failed to register a goal during the short spell. However, he did make an emotional second debut where he received a standing ovation at The Den.
It is worth noting that Tim Cahill’s journey hasn’t yet reached its conclusion. In September, he signed for Indian Super League side Jamshedpur, proving he isn’t quite ready to hang up his boots.
On the international stage, Tim Cahill has made history. He is the Socceroos’ all-time leading goal scorer and in 2006, he became the first Australian to score at a World Cup, before going on to score in the 2010 and 2014 competitions. Cahill had recently called time on his international career, but that decision was overturned, and he will now participate in one final fixture at the end of this month which will be against Lebanon and hopefully he will get the send-off that he and his career deserves.
Like Cahill, Robbie Keane left his home country to chase footballing success in England. Keane was born in Dublin, Ireland, and his footballing ability was clear to see from an early age. He impressed with his schoolboy team, Crumlin United, and received offers from both Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Keane saw Wolves as his best option as it would be a difficult task to break into Liverpool’s first team, a wise head on those young shoulders. He made the move to Wolverhampton just days before his 16th birthday, linking up with the club’s youth team.
After spending two years in Wolverhampton, Keane joined another midlands club in Coventry City for a fee of £6million which was British record for a teenager. The Irishman impressed during his time with Wolves and then in the Premier League with Coventry, and his efforts were rewarded with a glamour move to Inter Milan.
Marcello Lippi was the man in charge at the time and he considered Keane one of the best young players around, going on to sign him for £13million. Unfortunately for Keane, the move didn’t work out. Lippi was soon replaced by Marco Tadelli who didn’t consider the young Irishman as part of his plans – a decision the club would later go on to regret.
Keane ditched the glamour of Milan in 2001 for the city of Leeds in West Yorkshire, making his return to England. Leeds was another move that didn’t work out as the club became riddled in debt and had to cut their losses on Keane who joined Tottenham for his first spell in 2002.
It was at Tottenham where Keane finally found a place to call home. Over a six-year stay, he scored 80 goals in just under 200 appearances, and he also became the thirteenth player to score 100 Premier League goals. It was also at Tottenham where Robbie Keane demonstrated his trademark celebration which can only be described as a cartwheel into a forward role, topped off nicely with some gun fingers.
Keane experienced his first taste of silverware in 2008 as Spurs defeated London rivals Chelsea in the final of the League Cup. After racking up an impressive strike rate during his time in North London, Liverpool came knocking. Despite paying £20million for his services, Keane only spent one year on Merseyside before returning to Tottenham a year later.
A couple of loan spells followed with Celtic and West Ham before Keane made the decision to seek out a new adventure – A move to the iconic MLS club LA Galaxy.
Robbie Keane was another big name designated player added to the Galaxy’s roster as he joined up with David Beckham and Landon Donovan. He became a hero in LA as he helped the club win three MLS Cups in just four years. He went on to use his experience by captaining the team and then he was awarded the Major League Soccer MVP award in 2014 after an incredible year which saw him collect 19 goals and 14 assists in 29 appearances.
Long after leaving LA Galaxy, Keane opted for another adventure and this time he arrived in India to spend the 2017/18 season with ATK. The opportunity to play in a new league excited him, but it wasn’t one that would last long before he closed the chapter on a special career.
Keane scored a staggering amount of goals during his career but what was most impressive was the 68 he netted for the Republic of Ireland. The 68th goal, which he scored against Oman, put him level with the German great Gerd Muller.
Tim Cahill and Robbie Keane are two of the best from their generation and they shared so many things in common. They both followed similar career paths in terms of the countries they played in, they both exceeded 100 caps at international level and they both became the leading goal scorers for their respective countries.
They were both experts in the art of celebration and they both gave the Premier League and the world of football so many magical moments which will always be remembered fondly. The word ‘legend’ gets thrown around easily, but those two players epitomise the word.