New Western Sydney Wanderers loan signing Antonis is indebted to Cahill for helping to mould him from a supremely talented youngster to professional footballer.
So, tonight’s potential match-up gives added subtext to what should be a Harvey Norman Friday night cracker at AAMI when City host the red and black.
While the pair have been teammates with the Caltex Socceroos in the past – including the 2015 AFC Asian Cup triumph – tonight, potentially, is the first time in a competitive match they will face each other.
Their link goes back to when Antonis was one of the most highly rated juniors in Australia.
And later to a time when Cahill was a star in the EPL at Everton, while Antonis was a prodigy tipped for big things.
Through family connections, the pair struck up a professional friendship, with Cahill taking the youngster under his wing, as Antonis explained two years ago.
“He’s always been there for my support, I used to go to his house in England and see his family all the time in Australia so we are pretty close,” Antonis said when the pair fronted the media before the Asian Cup 2015 in Melbourne.
“He taught me heaps of things on and off the field. One of my close friends at school in year six was cousins with Tim, and that was the first time I met him.
“I always looked up to him and everything he said to me I took it straight in. When I was really young he said keep on working, training hard.”
And if not for transfer regulations that restricted players under 18 moving overseas, Antonis may have been signed by the Merseyside club.
“He had a contract and everything organised … he was different to every other player because of his ability on the ball and his vision,” Cahill explained at the same press conference.
“In different circumstances or another scenario he wouldn’t have been playing in Australia all these years.
“He would have been playing on the biggest stages of the world. I was pretty much nurturing him to be a Premier League player,” Cahill revealed.
While Antonis was forced to head home – and eventually got his start at Sydney FC – the pair remained close with Cahill keeping an eye on his progress.
In fact, Antonis’ first professional game was for the Sky Blues was against Cahill’s Everton in Sydney in 2010 in a friendly.
“I am very proud more for Terry and his family. I knew him when he was pretty much a baby,” Cahill added at the time.
“The thing I loved about Terry is his willingness to train. The ability he had on the ball was more than any other kid I have ever seen have. He had everything.”
Antonis’ path to stardom since then has endured a few ups and downs.
But undoubtedly inspired by Cahill’s own perseverance and professional approach, has come out the other side and now he has the chance to re-ignite his career back in Australia.
Irrespective of the result, you sense the pair will share a warm embrace tonight at AAMI.
Football Federation Australia