AT 37 years of age, Tim Cahill knows he is in the twilight of his career but the veteran striker insists that the sun isn't setting anytime soon.
Preparing for his 95th international, and hoping to push Australia further towards another World Cup, Cahill said his undiminished passion for playing meant he has no plans "to finish any time soon".
Hailing the inclusion in the squad of 18-year-old Riley McGree - even though "I'm old enough to be his dad" - Cahill said he would push every one of his teammates to the wire in a bid to be one of Ange Postecoglou's starting XI against Iraq in Tehran on Thursday.
Cahill's inclusion in the Socceroos squad had been under a cloud with coach Ange Postecoglou concerned at a lack of game time since the turn of the year for a player who needs two goals to hit half a century for his country.
But having played almost an hour and scoring against Newcastle last weekend, Cahill said he would know when the time was right to retire - and that time had not yet been reached.
"The time comes when you want it to finish," Cahill said. "The biggest thing is when you can't be professional enough to perform, that's an individual but also a collective decision to make. It has to be a motivational thing. I play because I'm passionate and I love the game.
"I've had a great career but I also have a contract for next season to win trophies. My job at Melbourne City was to win trophies and help the club get on the map. I feel like I've ticked some boxes but I also feel therevs a lot to fulfil. I don't see myself as a player who wants to finish any time soon, or doesn't have the appetite.
"When I looked (at the statistics of his last game for City), I ran 7km in 55 minutes but I'm also asking, could I have got on the end of more crosses, created more, converted more? That's all that matters, not focusing on who I'm up against, but more can I make myself, regardless of age, competitive.
"My passion outweighs anyone's in my opinion. That's been the key to coming home and enjoying the A-League."
Cahill flew into Tehran with McGree, having taken the chance to brief a player less than half his age about the best way to approach his debut Socceroos camp.
"It was good getting him early so I could sit and run through the team, the environment, what it's like," Cahill he said."The main attribute of why this is such a great environment is the discipline the boss has implemented. We don't know if this will be our first camp or our last, any of us, you have to leave asking if you've given everything.
"Riley's ability is exceptional. Now it's about consistency in the A-League, bringing that in here and helping us qualify for the World Cup. Personally, I think he has amazing feet, he's good on the ball, very confident and very forward thinking. His work rate as well, the last game he played he was back defending too.
"He has something that the boss sees, which is pretty awesome at his age. When you play football, it's all pretty equal on the pitch. I remember playing with (Everton and England star) Ross Barkley at 16 and now (look at) the world stage that he's on. I'm excited for Riley and excited to help with the next stage of his football development."
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