In 2013, a then 10-year-old Kyah Cahill sang the United States national anthem prior to his dad, Australian football legend Tim Cahill, captaining New York Red Bulls to a MLS win over DC United.
Nine years later and Kyah will have the chance to sing the Samoan anthem alongside his countrymen, after being included in the Samoa U-19s squad for the OFC U-19 Championships 2022 in Tahiti from September 7-24.
“I was singing the national anthem then just for fun, more for the experience,” Kyah told OFC Media. “This time is with the heart. This means something. This is different.”
While Kyah’s dad is better known for his exploits with Australia, with whom he played at four separate World Cups, Tim also represented Western Samoa at the 1994 OFC U-20 Championship at just 14 years old and can therefore offer Kyah some first-hand guidance.
“(My dad’s advice was) just the same as always really,” explained Kyah. “Just to be myself and play to my strengths and have fun most importantly.”
Tim’s influence on Kyah is made obvious by his choice of shirt number, the number 17 worn throughout Cahill Sr’s career and the similarities don’t stop there.
“Physical. Goals,” said Kyah when describing his playing style, attributes shared by 42-year-old Tim. “I play with my heart on my sleeve.”
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Kyah’s connection to Samoan football does not stop with his dad as uncles Sean and Chris are also both ex-Samoa internationals. But Kyah is currently playing his football in Qatar after previous stints in England and Spain, which has limited his opportunities to connect with his Samoan heritage. So when the opportunity arose to play for Samoa’s U-19s, Kyah snapped it up.
“My family is Samoan, but I haven’t really been in touch with it lately because I have always been so distant from the culture,” said Kyah.
“I am using this as a way to come back and see home and get around this area again and get in touch with my roots.”
— Tim Cahill AO (@Tim_Cahill) August 27, 2022
Tim was nominated for the Ballon d’Or in 2006 and is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest ever players. The Everton legend is in fact his nation’s record goalscorer with 50 goals, six of which came at the OFC Nations Cup in 2004, where he finished as joint top-scorer.
Samoa U-19s head coach Matt Calcott is optimistic this goalscoring ability is in Kyah’s blood.
“We all know the pedigree that Kyah has and the experience that his father has but he has come in and he has integrated so well, and he will be part of our leadership group,” said Calcott.
“We are really looking forward to having him on board and him scoring a bunch of goals.”
Calcott is happy with the Samoa squad assembled for the OFC U-19s, which has dipped into the Samoan talent pool across Australia and New Zealand. Advancing from the group stage, where they have been drawn alongside New Caledonia and Vanuatu, for the first time is their main objective.
However, Kyah clearly shares his father’s ambition and has faith in his new teammates to go even further.
“We are going for it,” said Kyah.
“I think we will take it game by game, but I believe in the team. The team that we have got and the amount of foreign (based) players we have it is just about how much we can reach for it and how much we want it.”
Samoa begin their OFC Under-19 Championship 2022 campaign against Vanuatu on Sunday, September 11.