In the aftermath of England’s 3-0 victory away in Bulgaria, Wayne Rooney came away with most of the plaudits after his 2-goal performance helped seal the win. But it was the other goalscorer that many pundits considered as the real man of the match, with a rock solid display in the heart of central defence, culminating in a clean sheet for his country, topping it all off with his first international goal. That player is Gary Cahill – a man who at 25-years old is finally enjoying his time in the limelight.
The man whose name was on many people’s lips throughout the summer transfer window has experienced an unprecedented amount of interest over the last 12-months, all culminating in a chaotic couple of days which saw him start, and score, for England during a competitive international, and being subject to the uncertainties of where he would be plying his trade as the drama of the transfer deadline day unfolded.
Gary Cahill is now a very much a wanted man. But if his rise to prominence seems meteoric due to the fame and interest of the last 12-months, it may seem surprising for many to learn he’s actually been playing in the Premiership since 2004, breaking through the ranks at Aston Villa. A few seasons on loan spent at Burnley and Sheffield United (his home town) saw him gain first team experience before establishing himself at the heart of Villa’s defence, even scoring a wonder goal – an overhead kick, in his first midlands derby. Interest gathered and in the January transfer window of 2008, Bolton Wanderers, on the advice of head scout Colin Harvey, plumped to sign him. It didn’t take long for the centre-back to become a firm favourite with the Trotters fans, where he remains this season, in the final year of his contract – despite the ongoing interest from the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea.
The host of Premier League clubs have been chasing Cahill’s signature since last season and many tipped the defender to leave this summer. However nobody stepped forward in meeting Bolton’s valuation of the player, thought to be around the £15 million mark. When Arsenal did come forward with an offer, their £6 million bid was instantly dismissed as ‘derisory’ by both Bolton’s Chairman and manager Owen Coyle who stated: ‘When I make an offer for a player, I’d like to think it’s in the right ball park. But this wasn’t even close. I’m only passing it on as a third party, but the word derisory doesn’t even cover it.’ Arsenal didn’t return and despite Harry Redknapp’s late desperation for the player, Tottenham failed to come up with the money on deadline day, ensuring Cahill will remain at Bolton until January at least.
To Cahill’s credit, the amount of interest shown in him from the bigger clubs (with all respect to Bolton) hasn’t swayed his attitude or commitment to Bolton’s cause. He has never kicked up a fuss and never looked to capitalise on the interest by handing in a transfer request unlike Messrs Modric, Meireles and Nasri. Or maybe he chose to remain, confident in the knowledge that if form is maintained, he can have his pick of whoever comes calling when his contract expires at the end of this season.
Cahill seems a down to earth character with his feet still firmly on the ground. As a teenager he played Sunday football for Sheffield side AFC Dronfield and still stays in touch with the club: ‘I still call in and visit whenever I’m around the area and have helped out in training and had a kick about with some of the younger groups. It’s amazing if you go back all those years and think of where you are now. I am very proud of what I have achieved. As a young English player coming through, playing for your country is the highest honour you can get.’
The way his season has begun, Cahill’s form shows no signs of dipping and is only serving to intensify the hype surrounding his abilities. Unflappable but tough, with an eye for a spectacular goal, the defender seems to have now transferred his club attributes to the international stage – and that ensures that his stock will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
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