Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s leading goalscorer Tim Cahill joined Shanghai Shenhua in China’s Super League on Tuesday shortly after the New York Red Bulls announced he had left the club by mutual consent.
The 35-year-old Socceroos star, who hit three goals during Australia’s triumphant run to the Asian Cup title, said he was attracted by the scale of the potential football market in China.
“I’ve done the Premier League, I’ve done America. New York was amazing for me … (but) China is a growing market in football,” Cahill said.
“You see in the (Asian Cup quarter-final) game that we played against China, millions of people watched it and I’m someone who is embracing culture and a different aspect of life.
“I’m at an age where I want to give something back to football and still play at a high level,” he said.
“To still be in demand and have the offers I’ve had is special but this will be massive for me as a player on and off the park.”
The attacking midfielder, who played for English Premier League side Everton before a multi-million-dollar move to the US Major League, said he had had a string of offers.
“I’ve been on the phone to (former Everton manager and Real Sociedad boss) David Moyes, I spoke with (former Arsenal and New York star) Thierry Henry and also the chairman Bill Kenright at Everton and (Socceroos coach) Ange (Postecoglou) this morning,” said Cahill.
“I’ve made the decision purely because I’ve played in the Premier League and did really well and it was a massive compliment to get the phone calls I did last night and to speak to Moyes about possibly going to La Liga.”
Cahill said he would decide in the coming days whether he would sign a one- or two-year contract with Shanghai, adding that he would continue his international career for as long as coach Postecoglou wanted him.
Cahill scored 14 goals in two-and-a-half seasons after joining the Red Bulls in July 2012 and netted twice for Australia in last year’s World Cup in Brazil.
The Red Bulls won the 2013 MLS regular season crown, the Supporters’ Shield, when the Australian was named in the league’s Best 11 and All-Star teams.
Cahill, who had also been linked with a move to Al Wahda of the United Arab Emirates, parted ways amicably with the US club.
“After much deliberation, we have agreed that this decision is best for all involved,” Red Bulls sporting director Ali Curtis said.
“We thank Tim for his service to the organization. He positively impacted the growth of the beautiful game in the United States, MLS and for the Red Bulls.”
Cahill, who follows in the footsteps of Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka at Shanghai, joined Millwall in east London as a trainee in 1998 and soon caught the eye for his stamina-busting performances.
He moved to Everton in 2004 scoring 56 goals over eight years on Merseyside.