Cahill over injury pain, forgives Mertens
Gary Cahill has forgiven Belgium winger Dries Mertens for causing the injury which forced him out of UEFA EURO 2012 and set his sights on being part of England's 2014 World Cup qualification plans. The Chelsea defender suffered a broken jaw when challenged by Mertens in the friendly international with Belgium at Wembley in early June.
It forced him out of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine and was a massive blow after experiencing the joy of winning the Champions League a fortnight earlier. But now Cahill is back and featured in England's 2-1 win over Italy in Berne on Wednesday.
"Football is a rollercoaster. You finish the season winning the Champions League and then miss out on the Euros," he said. "Missing the Euros was a nightmare. Emotionally it was frustrating when you hear the national anthem being played and you know you should be there.
"The injury was one of those things - but it was one of those things that could have been prevented. I don't think he (Mertens) meant it. It was a daft thing and I don't think he meant the outcome, but unfortunately that is what happened. You can't reverse it, so you get on with it and move forward. It was bad timing."
Cahill was one of the more senior players in a young squad assembled by Hodgson to face the Italians. "It was obviously great to be back," he said. "I was disappointed in the summer so it was nice to be back and involved as there are some important games coming up, especially in September (FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers).
"I thought we did well, there were a lot of fresh faces and it was pleasing to get a result against a country like Italy. It was difficult conditions out there, boiling and humid but it benefited us fitness wise going into the games at the weekend."
Cahill knows Chelsea have to reproduce the form of the final two months of last season if they are to close the gap on Premier League champions Manchester City. "It's exciting times. There are new signings coming in and it will be exciting, especially if we can produce the form we did in the last two months of last season," he said. "Last year the league form was not what we wanted it to be so it's important we address that this season and I'm sure we will.
"In terms of making up the gap on City, it's hard for me to comment as I only joined halfway through last season. But I think we picked up some dodgy results against - without disrespect - teams we shouldn't drop points to. There was a significant gap between us and City who won the league. We will look to address that this season for certain."
Cahill is saddened by the news that his former Bolton team-mate Fabrice Muamba was forced to retire after his heart problem and admits it puts football into perspective. "I heard it and it is sad. To retire at such a young age is devastating but the real fact of the matter is his health and I think people would have been surprised if he did come back and play again," he said.
"I'm sure his family, which is the most important thing, know he is up on his feet and out and about. That is the main thing. It is disappointing but I'm sure he will move forward and move onto other things. It puts it in perspective. You can never take anything for granted. It's an old cliche but it is true.
"One minute he is playing on a three or four-year deal in the Premier League and the next thing he is retiring at such a young age. You enjoy what you do and playing football is where you want to be at. You have to relish nights when you win."
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