Resurrection at any age is a wonderful and amazing thing to watch. But if Gary Cahill has a great World Cup, this comeback kid thing is going to get out of control, 32 years-old or no 32 years-old. What he’s been doing since April is flat-out remarkable.
Exiled by both Chelsea and England, not featuring in his club’s biggest late-season matches and being excluded from England’s World Cup warm-up squad seemed to signal the end of his topflight career. Then Andreas Christensen succumbed to exhaustion, Cahill became a third-choice emergency replacement at middle centre-back and his character took over.
He nailed down the starting job, he started and won the FA Cup and he earned a late recall to the squad that England is taking to Russia. Now, in his very first friendly since being welcomed back, he scores against Victor Mose’s Nigeria.
His post-match tunnel interview was typically self-effacing and yet revealing about the journey he’s on.
“I think I still got a lot to offer. Like I said, I just train, I train with the rest of the boys and I compete with the rest of the boys. It’s a great group to be involved in.
“Of course when you get your game time, like your career goes whether you’re younger or more experienced, you take your chance or you try to take your chance, so I got a chance today. I felt like I played well, scored a goal and more importantly, like I said, I felt the team, a lot of positives to take from the side today.”
Others felt just a wee bit stronger about how Cahill played, especially in a dominant first-half performance by the Three Lions, awarding him the Man of the Match and a bottle of bubbly painted red.
So strong did England look in the first half that there’s now speculation that the team we saw start against Nigeria will be Gareth Southgate’s preferred line-up against Tunisia on June 16th. If that turns out to be so, it’ll be yet another milestone in Gary Cahill’s comeback tour.
By the way, while this story is about Gary Cahill, another Chelsea player was on the pitch at Wembley. And really, this day wouldn’t be complete without showing you Victor Mose’s vivisection of Harry Kane, who gave a convincing demonstration of why he isn’t often asked to play in his own half.