It wasn’t the most opportune of debuts as England center back Michael Dawson lay writhing in pain in the 56th minute of England’s eventual 4-0 win over Bulgaria. But when Bolton defender Gary Cahill’s name was called by Fabio Capello to replace the injured Dawson, it was a proud moment for Cahill himself, his family and friends, and especially his Father, who was said to have burst into tears upon his son’s arrival into the match that saw Cahill earn his first international cap.
Cahill’s Dad has followed Gary everywhere throughout his career, even sharing in the horror that Gary experienced last February when a mysterious blood clot in his left arm kept him out of action for a number of months and dashed any chances of the 24 year old representing England at the World Cup.
“My dad was crying his eyes out when I went on – he will still be bouncing off the walls at the moment”, Cahill confessed to the media after making his senior debut on Friday. Although an incredible experience for his family and friends, his appearance at the expense of an injured player was bitter-sweet for Cahill.
“My arrival wasn’t ideal as when you see a team-mate on the floor looking in pain like Michael did, it took the edge off it a little bit, but I was happy to be playing and extremely proud to represent my country”.
Cahill’s affluence of family support and his pride displayed in donning the England shirt combined with his abilities as a defender optimistically point to a long and productive international career. His passion in finally representing his country will hopefully rub off on a few of the ‘business as usual’ England players who may or may not have lost the true ideal of what it means to play for England. As allegations have recently emerged concerning the late night galavanting of one Wayne Rooney, Cahill’s innocence and feel good story hopefully won’t be over shadowed by the behavior of the aforementioned and the illicit.
I’d like to think of Cahill as a young positive influence in the England camp and the kind of player who brings that much needed sense of optimism with him. Cahill is a player who has had to overcome adversity through injury and playing his club football with the not-so-glamorous Bolton Wanderers football club thus having to work that much harder to be noticed for international duty. Cahill isn’t a flash player or prone to steal the newspaper headlines, but he’s a big, strong defender with quickness who goes about his business in a quiet manner. As so many footballers seem to get caught up in activities not pertaining to the benefit or betterment of their club or country, Cahill’s call up comes as a welcomed distraction from the ridiculous decision making of those who’ve stole headlines in the past year.
As the now sidelined John Terry and Rio Ferdinand continue to look more injury prone, it will be the young Cahill who will be on the minds of England fans as likely understudy to one or the other. Cahill should now get his chance to start with Everton’s Phil Jagielka as central defenders on Tuesday away to Switzerland. Combined with other players deemed ‘fresh blood’ such as Ashley Young, Joe Hart and Adam Johnson, Gary Cahill has helped to breathe new life into the stuttering England squad from a few months ago.