When Gary Cahill first signed for Chelsea from Bolton Wanderers in a £7million deal in January 2012, not much was made of his arrival. But, having excelled in the past 18 months in west London, the centre-back can be considered as one of the Premier League's most consistent defenders.
Appropriately understated, the 27-year-old was initially brought in as back-up for the likes of club captain John Terry and big-money signing David Luiz at the heart of the Blues' defence. Now, he has every chance of surpassing both of them.
He wasted little time in working his way up the first-team pecking order, and has not only cemented his place in the Chelsea side, but also as one half of the first-choice pairing for the England national team alongside Phil Jagielka, ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil next summer.
The defensive duo both received recognition for their dogged performances in Tuesday's 0-0 World Cup qualifying draw with Ukraine in Kiev, after showing a steely determination to keep their eastern European opponents at bay.
In terms of ability, Mykhaylo Fomenko's forwards were far from the world-class quality that both Jagielka and Cahill have become accustomed to facing week-in-week-out in the Premier League. But nonetheless, it still provided a stern test of their capabilities to cope with the pressure of the situation, in a hostile atmosphere at the Olympic Stadium.
Cahill is now starting to gain the sort of recognition that his consistent level of performances deserve, and there is no reason why he cannot become even better, under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho, the fourth manager he has played for in just over one-and-a-half seasons at Stamford Bridge.
"I'm sure he can improve the team and also individually improve players, because he has worked with the best in the world," Cahill reflected in an interview with The Guardian last week.
"He likes you to work hard. Training is intense, there is a certain expectation level and a confidence he has got and that rubs off on the players, and we have started well this season."
With an FA Cup, Champions League and Europa League winners medal already in his collection, Cahill has proven his ability to compete at the highest level and in the most pressurised of conditions, which bodes well for him in the future, particularly given the intense scrutiny that comes with playing for a club of Chelsea's stature.
Cahill has formed a strong partnership alongside Terry in the early part of 2013/14, who is enjoying something of a resurgence since the return of Mourinho, and his recovery from the injuries that plagued him last season.
But, with Luiz now approaching full fitness, and expected to slot seamlessly into the back line, the Portuguese coach has a decision to make, whether to pair the Brazilian with his veteran skipper, or afford Cahill the opportunity to prove he is a worthy centre-back successor to the club legend.
The Chelsea captain's retirement from international football paved way for Cahill to establish himself in the middle of Roy Hodgson's England defence. Don't expect Terry to give up his place in Mourinho's line-up so easily.
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