A blood clot in 2010, broken jaw in 2012 – a major tournament for Gary Cahill was seemingly looking like a witches curse was hanging over it. But a lengthy run in the national side, and a stellar season with Chelsea, has not only meant he’s got his seat on the plane to Rio, but he’s going as a VIP.
It’s been a long time coming for the 28-year-old, who has built up somewhat of a partnership with Everton captain Phil Jagielka, and touches down in Rio relishing the prospect of his first tournament.
And what bigger stage can there be than in Brazil. Of course he lacks the samba of the likes of David Luiz, but what’s a telling factor of Cahill’s progressing quality is that he’s keeping that samba out of the Chelsea back four, week in week out.
The Blues boss Jose Mourinho said:
I think he is at the top of his game now. He’s had two and a half seasons at Chelsea now but this season has been his most complete one.
Gary had an absolutely fantastic season for me and he is becoming a leader.
Which since the retirement of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand from international football, England have been lacking amongst the back four.
It seems as though Cahill is taking over Terry’s mantle, for both club and country. He joined Chelsea in 2012 and has honed his trade underneath his skipper, which is paying off.
Which of course is vital when your nation is up against Mario Balotelli, Edison Cavani, and Luis Suarez. If England are going to progress, solid performances will be needed by both Cahill and Jagielka in the heart of Roy Hodgson’s defence, particularly against Uruguay.
Jagielka struggled last season with the Liverpool striker, conceding in both games to Suarez, whilst Cahill managed to keep him out when the pair went head-to-head in the Premier League.
Although the pair have the small battle of cutting Andrea Pirlo and Balotelli out first. Cahill and co. will go up against Italy on Saturday evening, and should the Chelsea man live up to his potential and read the game as well as he has all season it will be a huge boost to the England v Italy match odds, and place them well going into the rest of the tournament.
There’s no doubt a big performance from Cahill at the back will be instrumental in England’s success. Having confidence in the back line will allow the rest of Roy’s boys a little more freedom. And with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in front of him, the England number five’s first tournament could be one to remember.