TIM Cahill’s cameo stint against Newcastle Jets last weekend will be his last appearance for Melbourne City.
The Socceroos legend has quit Melbourne City, in a move that has looked to be on the cards ever since he made his plea last month for more game time to help him cement a spot in the World Cup squad.
The striker, who has rarely featured in new coach Warren Joyce's starting line-up, has not said where he is going.
But he is determined to play regularly so that he can impress the as-yet-unknown Socceroo coach enough to ensure he is on the plane to Russia for a tilt at his fourth World Cup.
Cahill has played just six games for City this season, five of which he has started from the bench and had reportedly fallen out with Joyce after dropping out of the first team.
He came on as substitute in the 77th minute of Saturday night’s 2-1 win at McDonald Jones Stadium.
He has been kept on the bench at Melbourne City this year through a combination of factors: he has been unavailable through Socceroos duties and Joyce has usually preferred Ross McCormack, the on loan-forward signed from Aston Villa.
With Bruno Fornaroli also expected to return from injury in the new year, Cahill's game time options would have been even more likely to be curtailed.
While the former Everton star, who turned 38 on Wednesday, might not have been a key part of City's plans, he played a major role in helping get the Socceroos to Russia. His two goals against Syria in the first Asian play-off ensured the Socceroos advanced to the continental play off against Honduras, which they subsequently won.
Cahill signed with City in August 2016 and has scored 13 goals for the club, most famously a 35-yard volley on debut against Melbourne Victory, which later won goal of the year, and the winner in the 2016 FFA Cup final.
Cahill highlighted his focus on playing in Russia next year.
"Qualifying for the World Cup has been a great adventure, and it would be a massive honour to represent my country in Russia. That will be my focus in the coming months," he said in a statement.
"Playing in the domestic league in Australia was always an important career goal for me, and my experience here has been fulfilling from start to finish. The welcome from fans, the quality of the facilities and the ever-increasing quality of football continues to be a source of immense pride.
"I want to thank Melbourne City, the players and the staff, and especially the fans. It was amazing to help bring the first piece of silverware to this club, and this makes me very proud.
"My experience here has been great and I have enjoyed contributing to the culture inside the Club, being asked to take on a leadership role and, most importantly, being able to mentor a lot of the younger players - something I will continue to do in the future.
"I wish the club, head coach, players and all the fans all the very best for the rest of the season. It's never easy to say goodbye but it was great to win last weekend and make a contribution, and also to have the club sitting third in the league."
City CEO Scott Munn thanked Cahill for his contribution to the club.
"Tim has been part of Melbourne City during a significant period in its history, scoring the winning goal in the FFA Cup final and contributing 13 goals in his first season in the A-League.
"We are grateful for his professionalism, leadership and mentorship of the playing group, particularly the younger players, to whom he has been a great source of inspiration and learning.
"Everyone at Melbourne City wishes Tim the best of luck for the future, and thanks him for his contribution to the Club and to the Australian game."
Joyce added: "Having players of Tim's stature in the dressing room can only help develop a squad's ambitions, and his impact on the team and for the club is well known, particularly with the younger players in the squad.
"In the period that I've worked with Tim, I have appreciated the contribution he has made both on and off the field and the dedication he has shown in training. We all wish him the very best on the next stage of his career."
Cahill's departure is the latest in a period of upheaval at Melbourne City after former assistant coach Michael Valkanis was sacked last week and replaced by Tony Vidmar.