Socceroos legend Tim Cahill was “gobsmacked” when his name got called as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), the second-highest honour in the Australia Day Honours list.
“I was gobsmacked because as a player and as a person, your whole life, all you want to do firstly is make your parents proud,” Cahill said. “Then to achieve the career that I’ve had on and off the park domestically and internationally, to be recognised in that way, (is) truly humbling.”
Known as the all-time leading goalscorer for the Australia national team, Cahill has scored a record 50 goals in 108 appearances for Australia from 2004 to 2018.
According My Football network, Cahill became the first Australian to score at a FIFA Cup Finals, the first Australian to score at an AFC Asian Cup Finals, and the first Australian to score at three FIFA World Cup Finals.
Cahill’s popularity has grown worldwide as he played for the New York Red Bulls (United States), Shanghai Shenhua (China), Hangzhou Greentown (China), Melbourne City (Australia) and Jamshedpur (India).
“I said when I finished that all I wanted from the game and myself was just to be respected and this is something that is just a massive reward for all the hard work time and effort,” the former Aussie Premier League player said.
Aside from soccer, Cahill is active in charitable services serving as an Ambassador for UNICEF, and as an Ambassador for Heartbeat of Football—an Australian organisation promoting healthy hearts in football.
According to the Australian Government website, the Order of Australia grants the highest recognition in the Australian honours system for “outstanding achievement and service”.
It includes four levels of recognition: Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), Member of the Order of Australia (AM), Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
The Officer of the Order of Australia, which Cahill received, is awarded for “distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or humanity at large.”
Other notable winners of the award include Australia’s 29th Prime Minister Malcolm Tunrbull, who was made a Companion of the Order (AC), tennis star Margaret Court (AC), horse trainer Gai Waterhouse (AO) and former Australian Test captain Greg Chappell (AO).
The total number of winners across categories such as Community, Medicine, Science, Media and The Arts is up to 845 people, slightly more than last year’s figure of 837, Nine News reported.
AAP contributed to this article.