By 90Min
January 30, 2018

A dark changing room lies empty save for one man. The cutting and frenetic notes of a violin mirror the excitement of grainy, nostalgic videos flashing before your eyes with a brimming, prolific hero serving his adoring fans. The emblazoned word 'Lions' rises slowly up an infamous calf and up stands the king of them all; the Mufasa of the Den. Tim Cahill has returned. 

Now we don't need to tell you this, but Tim Cahill was - and is - a pretty big deal for Millwall fans down in south London. The excitement and hysteria of their social media team - as seen by the announcement video - is matched, possibly, only by the fans who remember the Australian's time as a Lion.

56 goals and almost 250 appearances was more than enough to earn Cahill a place in the heart of every Millwall fan to have watched him play. The man was a prodigy; a passionate and loyal servant who helped the club reach an FA Cup final, win the then-Second Division and enjoy a round in the UEFA Cup from the age of 16.


And now, 14 years since leaving, he's back.


Understandably, his return has caused a buzz in Bermondsey and we can see why. But we've seen it all before: a legend returns to a doting crowd only to end their career on a low note. A comfortable end, yes, but not a successful one.


There's a whole hoard of players out there to have done a Tiny Tim without any luck: Joe Cole, Andy Johnson and Robbie Fowler to name just three.

Bryn Lennon/GettyImages

Whilst some might manage a bliss and rapturous return - Thierry Henry, we're talking about you - many fail to strike up the same impact they once commanded in their heyday. In the case of the above three, returns to West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Liverpool respectively were disappointing ends that tarnished once impeccable reputations.

Often when a player heroically comes back to the club they love and began their football with, they'll jolly off to a lower league afterwards; not quite content with finishing their already finished career.

Failing that, as is the case with Andy Johnson, it'll be a massive PR stunt and something for the fans to talk about, with little or no appearances materialising and everyone feeling just a little despondent. 

Whilst we do hope the move works out, there seems to be a worrying touch of the latter about Cahill's signing. 

According to the South London Press, the Lions' gaffer, Neil Harris, appears to have assigned Cahill a dormant, crowd pleasing role already.

"To start with, we are thinking about impact – someone to come off of the bench and give us that little lift, someone to lift the crowd and someone to pass on that knowledge when in front or behind."

FA Cup Semi Final: Sunderland v Millwall

Encouraging news, Tim.

The problem with returning legends is that they will always remain just that: a legend. Years of bruising football and the toils of ageing rarely combine to improve a player and so the rose-tinted glory days are often muddied by an underwhelming comeback.

Cahill will have to adapt to English football again. He'll have to settle into a new squad and, at the age of 38, a run of several games to find his place in the team is a big ask.

Fortunately for Millwall, the Socceroo is in fantastic shape and makes a point of keeping his fitness at the highest level. So there's a chance.

But excuse our pessimistic iconoclasm, the return of kings is best left to the realm of legend.

Today, Tim Cahill is still the player he was 14 years ago in the eyes of his fans. Returning home risks all of that. Perhaps it's better to safeguard the memories. 

Either way, good luck to the Australian; we love the excitement of a returning hero. Let's just hope this Lion bows out to a noble end.

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