IT’S somehow fitting that David Moyes had to brave some rough-stuff, verbals and a potent threat before he first clapped eyes on Tim Cahill.
The Everton manager, and his chairman Bill Kenwright, encountered all of the above as they drove slowly into Milwall’s New Den to watch a number of targets in 2004, including the largely unheard of Aussie midfielder.
Seven years later, and Moyes is responsible for submitting countless Premier League defenders to the same aggravation - and he could not be happier with the results of that fraught scouting mission.
“It was Millwall Birmingham and a play-off game, and Bill was driving me,” says Moyes as he puts the Socceroo through his paces in the hope he can be fit to terrorise Liverpool tomorrow.
“As we drove towards the ground, we got caught up in the crowd and they were battering the car on the way in, banging on the roof of the car, making a right racket and I said to Bill, “We're going to get it here.” And it was that game, they said there was going to be trouble. It was lucky we didn't turn the car around.
“We came away and I said, “Bill, we've got to try and get him.” Bill put an offer in the next week and we had the boy in his office and the minute he came in he lit the place up. He had that Aussie confidence saying I want to do this, I want to do that.”
Moyes had been going to watch Birmingham’s Darren Purse, but is eternally grateful it was the boy from Sydney, and not Stepney in London, that caught his eye.
“He has helped me because part of any new manager who comes into a job you have to make good signings to help your own position and to help the team get better,” he says. “I think Tim Cahill was a really good signing for £1.5m from Millwall at the time, and yes OK me trying to spot it, but then you need the person to come and from day one he has been nothing but magnificent.
“The way he goes about the job, the way he puts himself over, the way he talks about Everton football club he has been great.”
Cahill was close to signing for Crystal Palace before he opted for Merseyside, and Moyes suspects many managers have regretted not landing him - although, he insists, there have surprisingly been no serious bids for him over the years.
“If you think of all the managers out there who have said to themselves, 'How did we not go for Tim Cahill?',” he says. “And I am not saying “Oh look at David Moyes!” I'm just saying the boy has done great for me and great for Everton.”
Moyes insists the success of his move for the Aussie emboldened him to take risks on further players from the lower leagues.
“If you get a bit of joy it makes you ready to do it again,” he says. “At that time that was our sort of price-tag. AJ (Andy Johnson) was with Palace for a spell in the championship, Joleon (Lescott) we had been watching at Wolves, they were up and down, people like that we had been looking around.
“In that good Millwall team there was Lucas Neill, Steven Reid, Paul Ifill and they had a good team. People went to pick them off and I think we picked the best one.
“He came from the lower league and you are always thinking, 'Can you step up lad?' We identified that he had an ability to do certain things, but can you do that on a bigger stage? Against better players?
“Are you going to get the same room to score in the box? Are you going to be able to make the same runs? What are you going to contribute if you don't do that? These were all the things that were always going to be questioned about Tim, but he dispelled those pretty quickly.
“I think we have been good for him. Everton were a good fit for him, where we were, how we were developing and I think there are still things debated about Tim.”
The Everton boss accepts that Cahill’s role in his teams has, at times, been difficult to accommodate.
“Can he be a centre forward? What exactly is he?,” he says. “And that is why most of his career he has been better playing, if you play with three midfielders, one of three or behind a striker, rather than one of a midfield two.
“We have had to create a position for him, he has been the one who has stopped us at times playing two up top because we are not quite sure about him being an out and out central midfield player.”
Regardless of what Cahill cannot do, Moyes knows enough about the game to realise why he is such a handful for defenders.
“I think because the way he fights you,” he says. “The way he can intimidate you, he's not scared of the physical side of the game, he is good in the air but in his own way he is clever enough to look after himself and he knows when to do the right things. He has been great for Everton. He is going to be one of a kind in our time and by the time his time has come to an end I hope he can have something to show for it.”