The Socceroos’ all-time leading scorer has signed a two-year deal with A-League side Melbourne City.
Cahill, 36, ended weeks of speculation to announce his move home today on a deal that also includes a third year in which he will join City’s coaching staff.
“I am incredibly excited to have signed … there is real ambition and purpose here, qualities that are immensely important to me,” he said in a statement.
“I am here to contribute as much as I can to both the club and, where possible, to the further development of football here in Australia.”
The length of Cahill’s contract is a surprise, given previous reports had the Socceroo joining on a year-long ‘guest player’ deal.
The transfer is a huge fillip to the league ahead of its 12th season, one in which the all-important broadcast rights will be re-negotiated.
That has seen Football Federation Australia chip in for a portion of Cahill’s wages despite City’s cashed-up status.
FFA chief executive David Gallop said the signing was a “huge addition” for the club and league.
“A player with his passion for the game, and the records that he holds for the Socceroos, is going to be a tremendous asset,” he said.
Cahill started his professional career in England, split between lower league club Millwall and English Premier League force Everton.
He defied calls to come home in 2012, instead signing for New York Red Bulls, ironically now fierce rivals of City’s sister club New York City FC.
After two seasons in Major League Soccer, he moved to China on a mega-money deal with Shanghai Shenhua and earlier this year joined Hangzhou Greentown.
Cahill will now play his club football for the first time on home soil, under Dutch coach John van ‘t Schip.
Van ‘t Schip steered City to their best finish in six A-League seasons last year, finishing as semi-finalists.
Coach John van ‘t Schip will now seek to turn Cahill and golden boot winner Bruno Fornaroli into a striking duo that can win the league.
“He is without doubt one of the most loved sports stars in this country, and I think the fact that he is back in his home country is important to the fans, and is fantastic for us as a club,” he said.
“I see in Cahill and Bruno Fornaroli a beautiful footballing partnership.”
Cahill will link up with the club next week ahead of the A-League’s kick-off on October 7.
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