by Stefan Mauk for

It’s something that’s always going to stay with me; those two goals Tim scored in the World Cup in Germany. Who could forget them?

I wasn’t in the sun-drenched terraces in Kaiserslauten in the sea of green and gold, but like many Australians who were back home, I was no less connected to the events that unfolded on that afternoon on the other side of the world.

It was well past my bedtime, of course. But as a 10-year-old swept up in the hype of the World Cup, and snuggled with my family on the couch in Adelaide in the early hours of the morning, there was no way I was going to miss it. I was too excited.

It was Australia’s first match at the World’s biggest tournament in over 30 years, so it was a pretty big moment for a young fan. I’d only really just connected with the Socceroos after that night in Sydney the previous November that sent us through.

Back then it was my first year of club football. It was pretty early on in my career but I guess I always had the dream to become a professional footballer, like a lot of young kids do without thinking too much in depth about it. That’s all I wanted to do at that stage.

Tim probably wasn’t the biggest name going around at that World Cup for Australia. But after that first game, while we were watching from the lounge room, he definitely announced himself.

And what’s more significant is he made a lasting impression.

Not only on me, but on so many other young kids who were aspiring to be professional footballers. You just had to look at the outpouring of tributes on social media from his peers, teammates and fans when he announced his retirement to see how much of an impact he has had.

I was in a café when I saw his announcement and Twitter, and immediately my mind went back to that moment in 2006.

Seeing Tim score the first World Cup goal – and then scoring that second one as well – it was just an incredible moment for me.

That moment played a massive part in me wanting to play professionally, to go on to play for a big club, to have dreams to maybe one day go to the World Cup. Seeing the passion and the excitement around Australia at that time was a big driver for me to get to where I am today.

For Tim to score those first goals was a symbol of the type of player he was and always has been, that he’s always stepped up in the big games.

Having met and played with Tim for a few months at Melbourne City, I noticed just what he was all about in the flesh.

He just has this aura of confidence and self-belief about his own ability.

It’s not arrogance – he just knows when he’s going to make an impact, when he’s going to score. I think when he goes out onto the field he’s probably seen that moment in his head play out.

Then he goes out there and produces, which is the hardest thing to do.

It’s easy to talk and to say what you are going to do.

But to go out there and constantly do that time and time again, whether it is in that Japan game, or in the Premier League for Everton or recently in the qualifier against Syria to get us to the World Cup after everyone had probably written him off, is the hard part.

Whenever he went onto the training field he wanted to win, he wanted to be the one scoring the goals, winning the game, or a 50-50 challenge. He wants to win everything.

I think that’s what really takes a player from being a really average player to one of the world’s best; that drive to always be the best.

He was 37 years old when we were teammates and we had some very tough sessions, but he was always completing training, not looking to have a day off and that’s what made him so durable.

For him to reach that fourth World Cup showed he’s got an amazing amount of willpower and professionalism. He has spent a lot of time on himself working on his body. He does everything to make sure he’s not just fit and available, but available to produce big moments.

To be the first Australian to go to four World Cups, which is a massive, massive achievement in itself, there’s probably no better way to bow out and finish his international career with such an achievement.

He’s shown that he’s the best Australian player at going above and beyond what other people had set his limits at so that’s a massive testament to his own character and something that every kid should look up. I think that’s why everyone loves him so much.

The way he plays shows every young kid that if you really believe in something, you want to go out there and do it, and you are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes. Tim’s someone who has proved that.