Australia's all-time leading goalscorer Tim Cahill quit A-League outfit Melbourne City in search of more game time ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Cahill's shock departure was confirmed on Wednesday, with City announcing the mutual agreement, effective immediately just nine matches into the 2017-18 A-League season amid a reported falling out with head coach Warren Joyce.
The 38-year-old – who arrived in Melbourne last year – had hinted at leaving City in order to be part of Australia's World Cup squad following the Socceroos' successful inter-confederation play-off against Honduras, having struggled to cement his spot in Joyce's starting XI.
"Playing in the domestic league in Australia was always an important career goal for me, and my experience here has been fulfilling from start to finish. The welcome from fans, the quality of the facilities and the ever-increasing quality of football continues to be a source of immense pride," Cahill said.
"I want to thank Melbourne City, the players and the staff, and especially the fans. It was amazing to help bring the first piece of silverware to this club, and this makes me very proud. My experience here has been great and I have enjoyed contributing to the culture inside the club, being asked to take on a leadership role and, most importantly, being able to mentor a lot of the younger players – something I will continue to do in the future.
"I wish the club, head coach, players and all the fans all the very best for the rest of the season. It's never easy to say goodbye but it was great to win last weekend and make a contribution, and also to have the club sitting third in the league.
"Qualifying for the World Cup has been a great adventure, and it would be a massive honour to represent my country in Russia. That will be my focus in the coming months."
Media Release Tim Cahill to depart Melbourne City FC Melbourne City FC and Tim Cahill have mutually agreed that Cahill will depart the Club, effective immediately. Cahill signed with Melbourne City in August 2016 and scored in his debut league match against Melbourne Victory, a half-volley from 35 metres away that was later awarded ‘A-League Goal of the Year 2016-17’. He went on to score another 12 goals for the Club in all competitions, famously netting the winning goal in the November 2016 Westfield FFA Cup Final. Commenting on Cahill’s time with Melbourne City, CEO Scott Munn said: “Tim has been part of Melbourne City during a significant period in its history, scoring the winning goal in the FFA Cup Final and contributing 13 goals in his first season in the A-League. “We are grateful for his professionalism, leadership and mentorship of the playing group, particularly the younger players, to whom he has been a great source of inspiration and learning. “Everyone at Melbourne City wishes Tim the best of luck for the future, and thanks him for his contribution to the Club and to the Australian game.” Tim Cahill said: “Playing in the domestic league in Australia was always an important career goal for me, and my experience here has been fulfilling from start to finish. The welcome from fans, the quality of the facilities and the ever-increasing quality of football continues to be a source of immense pride. “I want to thank Melbourne City, the players and the staff, and especially the fans. It was amazing to help bring the first piece of silverware to this Club, and this makes me very proud. My experience here has been great and I have enjoyed contributing to the culture inside the Club, being asked to take on a leadership role and, most importantly, being able to mentor a lot of the younger players - something I will continue to do in the future. I wish the Club, Head Coach, players and all the fans all the very best for the rest of the season. It’s never easy to say goodbye but it was great to win last weekend and make a contribution, and also to have the Club sitting third in the league.
Cahill joined City as a marquee player in 2016, and he scored 13 goals, including the winner in the FFA Cup final against Sydney FC last November.
The veteran, however, struggled for game time under new boss and former Manchester United reserves coach Joyce this term, only starting one of six A-League matches for a total of 94 minutes.
Joyce said: "Having players of Tim's stature in the dressing room can only help develop a squad's ambitions, and his impact on the team and for the club is well known, particularly with the younger players in the squad.
"In the period that I've worked with Tim, I have appreciated the contribution he has made both on and off the field and the dedication he has shown in training. We all wish him the very best on the next stage of his career."
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