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Gary Cahill has a chip on his shoulder and that’s a good thing

The whispers of doubt have driven him to a dream career

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Swansea City v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

He hears them.

A Champions League, two Premier Leagues, a FA Cup, a League Cup and a Europa League in his pocket. Until this season, trusted by his coaches. As accomplished a player as you could want.

But Gary Cahill still hears the doubters, always there in the background.

“The majority of Chelsea fans have been unbelievable to me, but there is maybe an element of five per cent always thinking ‘get the next best thing in’ or ‘move him on’. I can feel that in a certain percentage.

“It always seems to be that when someone is signed, it’s ‘oh Cahill’s on his way’. I’ve had that for as long as I can remember being at this club. Last year, John Terry was captain off the pitch but I was captain the majority of the time on the pitch and yet I’m hearing ‘Cahill might be fighting for his place’.

“We smashed records last year, up until now with Manchester City breaking them, I captained the team, won the title again for the second time, got to an FA Cup final, and you are still hearing you are in trouble. It sometimes annoys me, but the reality is I was in no trouble because the club showed faith in me and we went on to dominate the League.”

The reality of professional sports is that big signings get big publicity, and small signings don’t. Cahill was a small signing when he moved from Bolton to Chelsea in 2012 for just £7 million. That price tag has shaded opinions of him ever since.

The perception, the questions, have given him that most valuable of things for a sportsman — a chip on his shoulder to prove them wrong. Arguably, that chip has driven him to exceed the modest expectations many had of him.

“I’m sure the club bought me at that stage to be a squad player. For £7 million and the fact I’m English and qualify for home-grown, 100 per cent, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to realise ‘OK, they’ve brought me in to be one of four or five’. That’s the feeling I got when I came here. But I can remember how determined, how hungry, I was to make this a success.”

“People go for £30m, £40m, £50m at this moment in time and don’t make the level at the club they are at, leave after a season and nothing is spoken about. When you break that down, whether you like me or not, you can’t say that’s not massive success and I’m still hungry to have more.”

It’s been a rollercoaster season for Cahill. He never lost his captaincy but he found himself on the bench nine times, including for some of Chelsea’s biggest matches of the season. He never played against Barcelona in the Champions League (when the man he would have replaced, Andreas Christensen, was making costly mistakes.) He sat out the League Cup replay against Arsenal (a loss) as well as our late-season matches against Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur (every one a loss.) For all the world it looked like he was on his way out.

But one thing you can say above all about Gary Cahill — he’s not a quitter.

“I find it tough to be left out, to sit there and not influence anything. We had a huge amount of big games in important competitions and you can’t influence them. You can influence them in the dressing room and in training to a certain degree, but the business end is influencing it out there on the pitch and how can you do that when you are not out there?

“Thankfully, now I’m back in playing and at level where I feel I should be, whereas before I feel there were a few games when I was very disappointed in my game.”

AC’s slump gave Cahill a chance to rehabilitate himself with Conte, this time in a new-to-him position in the center of a three-man back line. His play hasn’t been perfect but it’s been very good. He hasn’t lost his hunger and, even though he already won the 2012 FA Cup, last season’s loss to Arsenal in the final sticks in his craw and he wants to atone.

“100 per cent, it’s the one that I’d like to win on the pitch. I was really disappointed last season because we won the League early and, rightly so, it was a relaxed atmosphere.

“We enjoyed the rest of the League and tried to switch on the week before to play the final, and I think we put up as short a performance in that game as we had all season. I felt like it was one we let slip away that we let get away. So I feel blessed at the minute that we are gearing up for another one and it’s one that could save a big chunk of the season. However you dress it up that final is a huge, huge game.

“But a trophy is a trophy and you are talking to an Englishman who knows the meaning of the FA Cup and has watched the FA Cup since I have been small. Maybe it’s different for the foreign lads who come over, I’m not sure. But, for me, the FA Cup is huge. It’s a tough question, but a trophy is a trophy.”

Burnley v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Great attitude. Pretty much what you’d expect from our captain. Beside winning the cup — and pursuing Chelsea’s slim chances of making the top four — Cahill has one other item on his agenda. Dropped by Gareth Southgate from the March friendlies, doubtless because he wasn’t playing for his club, he hopes his late run of form will be enough to get the England manager’s attention and buy him a trip to the World Cup.

“I spoke to the manager and I have got a good relationship with him. That’s personal, but I respected him for speaking to me before finding out elsewhere. And that was then, and it is what it is. No problem.

“Clearly I was disappointed to not be involved, especially when I have been involved for the last seven to eight years and played in the majority of the qualifying games to get to this tournament. So, of course, it was disappointing.

“So if you are asking me am I capable of going to the World Cup, I feel personally yes I am. If you’re asking me if I’ve got the CV or the experience, then yes, but that is my opinion and the only opinion that matters is obviously the manager’s and his assistant.”

-Gary Cahill; source: Telegraph

Like yesterday’s interview with Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill was made available to the media to promote a social initiative. In the East Stand on Sunday, Chelsea will open a new “sensory room.” It’s intended to give children with developmental issues — autism, for example — a place to enjoy the match while protected from the noise and and crowds of a busy match-day stadium. BT and the Premier League are behind the project, which debuted to great success at Southampton last season. Every Premier league club is being encouraged to participate. This is a feel-good effort and we hope it succeeds in West London too.

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