Tim Cahill makes you think. As he visited another corner of the globe and punched another of its flags, the realisation dawned on Monday that he is much more than the striking midfielder who pops like a cork in the box for Everton.
When he scored his second goal in Doha against India, Cahill's Australia goal tally rose to 23 in 47 appearances. Simultaneously, Cahill made the Asian Cup smile. He is the star of a continent and beyond. Everton, England, Australia, Asia: not many footballers have the dimensions of Cahill.
If he continues to deliver, then Qatar will have a diversion and the most high-profile Asian Cup yet will have a story that crosses its previous boundaries. Cahill and Australia take on Park Ji-sung and South Korea in a tasty Group C match on Friday that may be the forerunner of the Asian Cup final in two weeks.
Those players' names, theircountries, give Asia weight and in Cahill, a Federation growing inconfidence, has a willing ambassador.
'Being here is a privilege,' he said at the Doha hotel shared with thethree other teams in the group. His tone was serious. 'It's a massivecompliment to me to be known in Asia because Asia is the way forward infootball, along with the Middle East. I believe that strongly.
'People keep asking me, "How much does it mean to you?" Well, I've left the Premier League when I'm in good form, scoring, to come to the Asian Cup. There's not much more needs to be said.
'My commitment to the tournament and to Asia is obvious. I've played in nearly every country in Asia and the people have always taken to me, respected the hours travelling, the effort on the pitch. This competition is massive to me because I see myself playing in Asia some time in the future. After England, definitely.'
Cahill will not be short of offers. He has a status born of achievement and his profile here is international. Cahill not only scored Australia's first goal at a World Cup, in 2006. Pertinently, a year later he scored Australia's first at an Asian Cup finals.
Punching above his weight: on the mark again for Everton
That was their first following the decision to depart Oceania, with its troublesome World Cup play-off against South American opposition. This is the second, in under-scrutiny Qatar, who somehow beat Australia to the 2022 World Cup. Next, in 2015, Australia are Asian Cup hosts.
Cahill was 31 last month and he has no plans to miss 2015. That word commitment keeps coming forth. He is feisty, even in a hotel foyer, sure of himself and sure that that quality has driven him to where he is now.
'I'm blessed that I'm not content,' he said. 'Whenever I work with kids, which I'm passionate about, I want them to know that, yes, two World Cups, two Asian Cups, but I've done it the hard way.
'I want them to look at me and think, "Tim Cahill was an average kid growing up, from a family with nothing, but through hard work, desire and family support he got there".
'My parents worked, we had many houses, we rented a lot and it's never easy. All the money goes to rent. I've brothers and a sister. For us to play football you need three pairs of boots for a start, soccer jerseys, petrol money; my parents got a loan for me to go on trial at Millwall and other clubs. It's something I'll never forget.
Country boy: Cahill on the attack for Oz against India
'Now I'm in a position where, through my actions on the pitch, I can make an impact off it, send a message. I'm very thankful for what I've got.'
As he wheeled away on Monday in trademark style, Cahill not only picked out his family entourage in the crowd - Australia encourage their nearby presence, and his brother Chris was in a pink No 10 Everton shirt - he sent a message to flooded Australia. Today the team want to send another and have requested a minute's silence before kick-off.
Cahill, from Sydney, recently raised funds for victims of bushfires. His homeland has been battered by its climate. 'Mate,' he said, 'this was about my fifth different goal celebration for charities in Australia. It's that thought, knowing that when I wake up here there are people dying there. Also that there are more people missing. They're closing down suburbs and cities. I've played at Suncorp Stadium and now it's under water.
'But what effect can I have as a footballer? In my head on Monday I thought that I so, so want to score against India to be able to make some gesture. But I'm in my room afterwards thinking, "Can I do more? How can I, we do more?" '
So it's no winter break. Australia and Cahill have been impressed by the facilities and general standards in Qatar but he knows what he's missing too, particularly on Sunday. In Everton's 122-year history only one man has scored as many goals (three) against Liverpool at Anfield as Cahill and his name was Dixie Dean. That's company.
'There's a record there for me to break at Anfield,' Cahill said. It is tempting to report that Cahill added the next four words dreamily, but no, they came with, well, commitment: 'Me and Dixie Dean.' Then he expanded. 'It's weird, Liverpool fans love to hate me.
'Yet I respect their fans a lot, it's such a great football club. I always feel amazing playing at Anfield, it's a beautiful stadium - the atmosphere. You know you can make a difference for our fans.
'These are the greatest games you can play in. People say, "Don't you want to win something?" Well, winning a derby is like winning something. The feeling of beating Liverpool at home or at Anfield is massive.
'I'll be sad not to be there. I know Kenny Dalglish, I've met him a few times. What better man to take the reins? He has been there and done it and he has massive respect.
'But it's not going to be easy for him because he's inheriting a team that probably needs a lot more personnel. It's a bit messy for them at the moment.
Trademark: Cahill rises high in the box to head another international goal against India
'But he's a direct bloke who knows what he wants, and he gains respect straightaway. He's obviously an idol for the fans and, apart from Sunday, let's hope he turns it around for them.'
Generosity was tempered, of course. Cahill acknowledged that Liverpool are not the only club in the city having an 'indifferent' season. Everton's has been an anti-climax so far and now it's January, now it's rumour time again.
They are a close unit at Goodison Park - Cahill was best man at Mikel Arteta's wedding in the summer - and David Moyes's squad does not need Steven Pienaar or Phil Neville leaving.
'I don't like talking about transfers but I can talk about the influence Steven Pienaar's had, his commitment to the club and how well he's played this season,' Cahill said. 'He's a credit to himself.
'And Phil Neville? Massive, speaks for himself. He is someone I've learned from. He's changed me on and off the park, his professionalism. What he's brought to the team, you can't replace. His desire to win, his commitment to the team. I know what these players can add. There's a good old saying, "You'll miss them when they've gone". Phil Neville is someone I'd miss, someone we'd all miss.'
Eye on the east: Everton's midfielder would like to play in Asia when he eventually leaves Goodison Park
Another message sent from another part of the world: Cahill knows how to jab. He has punched above his weight ever since Moyes paid Millwall £1.5million for him in 2004, one of the best pound-for-pound signings of the last 20 years. Boxing to Cahill is more than mere terminology and, as he headed for lunch, he smiled when recalling a Millwall trip under Dennis Wise to a Frank Maloney gym in south London.
'I had a round or two in the ring with Wisey, so did some of the other lads. Wisey's influence made me stronger as a player. He'd been there and done it but he put a lot of time into me, into developing me as a footballer.
'That boxing session was fantastic. We got into the ring and we threw some punches, we had a good time. I suppose Wisey can tell you what happened.
'Not many would want to get in the ring with Wisey, but if he's got to learn, he's got to learn from the best.'
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Explore more:People: David Moyes, Tim Cahill, Kenny Dalglish, Phil Neville, Park Ji-sung Places: Sydney, Liverpool, London, South Korea, Australia, Qatar, United Kingdom, India, Asia, Middle East