Tim Cahill sees Igor Stimac bringing good discipline into Indian football

Australian legend, Tim Cahill, talks about his short stint with Jamshedpur FC, his love for Indian football and a possible career in coaching.

Legendary Australian forward Tim Cahill talks fondly of his association with Indian football and why coaching may not be as big a career shift as one may think.   -  Getty Images

Tim Cahill’s season-long stint in the Indian Super League in 2018-19 was blighted by injuries and the Australian legend could play only 11 games, scoring twice. He, however, played a huge part in the development of young players in Jamshedpur FC, taking the role of a senior statesman with all seriousness. Cahill, who announced his retirement from football during the ISL, still fondly remembers his time in India and is ever willing to help Indian players and the League.

Ahead of the Club World Cup final here, the four-time World Cupper spoke to Sportstar about his views on Indian football and plans of getting into coaching.

How was your experience playing in India?

It was amazing. I made a conscious decision to earmark India because I wanted to be one of very few players in the world to play in five countries and two of the biggest in the world. The infrastructure, the development, the country, the grassroots, the business and development side have been amazing.

I joined with the Tata Group... we were in the middle of nowhere in Ranchi, but we had the best facilities. We lived in a training camp, woke up, gym, swimming pool, training pitch 24x7. We lived together like brothers and I got to learn about the people, the village and how amazing they are. But I did so many grassroots programmes, which we are continuing now with the relationship with Atletico Madrid. I was effectively coaching, helping, managing the side and I wanted to do that personally as I was giving so much back to the League. It will be great to have more games, but let it evolve together. Players are going there, it’s attracting a lot of attention, good coaches are there and that is important. The national team manager (Igor Stimac) is bringing in good discipline. I honestly loved India and still have a close connection with the owners, the club and (am) very supportive of the League.

Are there any Indian players who impressed you during your stay?

There is Farukh (Choudhary – 23-year-old forward), Sumit Passi (25-year-old forward) and there are so many more young players. I took it upon myself to connect with them and they still message me, we have a close contact. I am there for them and the club in any sort of way.

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Having spent a season with Indian Super League side Jamshedpur FC, Cahill picked Farukh Choudhary and Sumit Passi as his standout talents from the side.   -  Twitter/ Jamshedpur FC

Do you see yourself getting into coaching?

I come to Qatar and get mentored by Ivan Bravo in Academy Aspire. I get to be around the academy, I get to watch Xavi from afar, see how his coaching career is going on. (I get to) come to the Global Football Summit with Hernan Crespo, Samuel Eto’o and understand their sporting methodology with children as I am working with the Everton under-16s. I am using these opportunities to become a coach.

I am close to completing my A License and I believe you have to slowly bid yourself in and be with the grassroots, you have to understand different cultures, different coaching styles. I have been to two of the biggest countries – China and India. When you are in these countries, you are a leader and an underlying coach. You are talking tactics, you are always taking groups to sessions, to analysis sessions. I am very calculated and try to learn from all my experiences in America, China, India, Australia and obviously England - the melting point of football in the world. I love the whole element of coaching but it is a big decision when it comes.

From which coach did you learn the most during your playing career?

I think I also learned a lot from my team-mates. Look at Guus Hiddink; Ange Postecoglou just won the J-League. He is so methodical, so philosophical. There’s no way he will change his style for anyone. David Moyes was more adaptable. There are so many influences, players you have played with like Thierry Henry, Mikel Arteta, Phil Neville – so many different attitudes. Some leaders lead with their action and others lead with their voice and armband. I have never had an armband but I have always been an important influence inside changing rooms through action first and secondly through voice.

What are your impressions of the Club World Cup?

It has been amazing, I have been travelling to Qatar since 2008. The relationship with the FA through the academy and grassroots have been special. The stadiums, the sustainability, the legacy — there are so many more elements that come into this. We have done some many things over the past few days, it’s not just about coming here to have fun. It is to taste the Emir Cup, the Gulf Cup and now the Club World Cup... all the systems are in place to be prepared for what to come.

What are the positives that you see here?

If you look at the eight stadiums, you have to understand what goes into it. When you build a stadium, you have to think about the sensory room for kids and people with disabilities - there can be no obstructive view. You have a 40,000-seat stadium where 20,000 seats can be lifted and taken elsewhere. You talk about sustainability in terms of plastic, by not bringing certain things in boxes. A lot of concerns have been there - about air conditioning, how much power it is going to use – but the most challenging bit will be competing for energy efficiency. Playing in four World Cups, I can give my pros and cons from Germany, South Africa, Brazil and Russia to Qatar. To have a regional tournament in an area of 40-50 km is a big challenge – the metro plans, the hotels, cruise ships coming in.

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