Tim Cahill is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. In celebrating his goal in Sunday's 3-1 FA Cup win against Aston Villa, the Australian pointed to his black armband, a mark of respect to the victims of the bushfires raging in Australia. It is that sort of emotion and passion that has got him where he is and endeared him to supporters and players throughout the world.
His will to win and battling qualities are always in evidence, particularly this season when he had to forage alone as a striker as Everton suffered an injury crisis up front. David Moyes says his performance against Villa was "as good as anyone", yet what baffles me is why a bigger club have not bid for him. When clubs are considering Kaka, Andrei Arshavin or David Beckham, why is he not mentioned in the same breath?
He might not have the same artistry as the above, but as a goalscoring midfielder, there are few better around. In tough situations there are fewer you would want in your ranks. He is nicknamed "the ghost" for the way he sneaks in undetected behind defences. He has this uncanny, frightening, ability to come up with goals when all seems lost, as Australia will testify after his late double helped turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 win in their crucial World Cup 2006 meeting with Japan. It often brings comparisons with the former England player David Platt, who made his name more in Italy with Bari, Juventus and Sampdoria than in England. The same late runs, the same crucial goals.
And Serie A is somewhere his former Australia teammate Zeljko Kalac, now a reserve goalkeeper at AC Milan, feels Cahill's talents would come to the fore. Players such as Paul Okon, Vince Grella and Mark Bresciano have all made their mark there. "A lot of players need to get out of England if you ask me," says Kalac. "There are no tactics. A lot of it is kick and run, the long ball. "Timmy is a great player. He's had some knocks, but if he continues the way he has been doing then he will end up at a really big club."
Cahill is a key component in the Everton engine. He is their Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard and only injuries have hampered his rise to even more prominence. If he can stay fit, he can drive them on to success this season with the FA Cup a definite possibility. But if he achieves that, do not be surprised to see clubs with Champions League ambition looking a bit more closely at a player who was in the top 50 nominated for the Ballon D'Or as European Footballer of the Year back in 2006.