Not like this. Cahill looks up, tears of anger and frustration welling up. Not like this. And then the plug is pulled.
I imagine that scene that played out in some dark corner of Stamford Bridge back in late November when Gary Cahill made what looks like will be his final official Chelsea appearance. The scoreboard read 4-0. Chelsea had secured qualification for the Europa League knockout rounds by beating PAOK. Cahill played the full 90. It was his 289th match for Chelsea, putting him level with Ian Britton for 40th on the club’s all-time appearance list.
And then the plug was pulled.
Although the way Cahill tells it, the last 7 of those appearances will be willfully and actively ignored when it comes to remembering his time in the SW6.
“It’s been really terrible for me personally. It will just be erased out of my head when I leave Chelsea. My last memory will be last season’s FA Cup final.
“It’s been very difficult. I have played on a regular basis over the previous six seasons and I’ve won everything with Chelsea, so to be watching from the stands is something I didn’t expect. I know how the whole club works, I’ve got a big relationship with all the players and staff, and yet none of that has been utilised.
“If you are not playing a player, any player, for two, three, four games, then you don’t have to give a reason for that. But if it gets to eight or nine games, then you have to explain the situation. What’s going on? But the manager hasn’t done that. I see some of the situations with players who won the title with Chelsea, not just myself, and it just hasn’t been right. It makes it very hard for me to have respect for someone who has not respected what some of us have won with the club.”
The man who officially pulled the plug on Cahill’s Chelsea career is Maurizio Sarri, who may have come up with an explanation in public for why he ostracized Cahill, but apparently he didn’t bother to actually tell that to Cahill in person as well. That’s probably because the reasoning, not technical enough or some such, is about as flimsy as claiming that Drinkwater can’t play in a midfield-three or that Kanté can’t play one-touch football. Sarri’s treatment of Victor Moses, and to a certain extent, Cesc Fàbregas are quite similar as well.
And it’s immaterial whether or not you agree with Sarri, or even like or rate the players in question. There’s a certain level of professionalism that has to be expected in a workplace, any workplace. As far as Cahill’s concerned, Sarri failed in that regard. He’s probably not wrong.
“I’m quite proud with how I have dealt with it. I’ve not been disruptive and I’ve trained hard every single day. I’ve got a respect for all the other people at the club, the players and the staff and the people who helped to give me a chance, so it’s been important to me to conduct myself in the right way. And when you see an Ethan Ampadu, or another young player coming through, he can see how you behave every day, so you have to set the right example.”
“I went to the World Cup and didn’t play, but I came back with an even higher opinion of Gareth Southgate. It’s all about how you treat somebody.”
As sour as this final note may be, Cahill has plenty of fond memories to take with him when he leaves this summer.
Two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, one League Cup, one Europa League, and the Champions League trophy have his name on it, as does the Captain’s armband, and no one can ever take those away.
“If you look at the big picture, not this season, I think in terms of myself and Chelsea, we have been good for each other. They have been great for me and given me the platform to express myself on the biggest stage and I feel I have given everything for the club and for the shirt when I’ve played. And I’ve been lucky enough to be in a lot of successful teams that have won a lot of trophies.”
“I feel privileged to have been involved in Chelsea teams with such legendary players as Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, JT and Lamps, and the list goes on. To witness how they train and work has been a blessing for me. All my best years in football have been in the last six or seven years.”
His best years may be behind him, but at 33, Cahill’s not done yet. He had offers to leave in January; he will undoubtedly have plenty more to choose from now. He may not even go very far, with Fulham set to rekindle their interest.
“People talk as though my career is coming to an end, but it’s not like that for me at all. I 100 per cent see me playing another three or four years easily in terms of the way I look after myself.”
In that regard, he will join all the other legends of the Old Guard and the heroes of Munich. Lampard, Terry, Drogba, Cole, Mikel, Čech, Ivanović, and others all went on to play elsewhere for at least a year or two after leaving Chelsea. I suppose it’s just not in our nature to see our legends retire.
“I’m ready to go and I leave this club thankful to all the players, staff and fans who have helped me so much, and I go with my head held high.”
-Gary Cahill; source: Telegraph
Let’s hope Cahill at least gets a proper goodbye.