LONDON, May 29 – Everton midfielder Tim Cahill believes Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea represents the chance to start a golden era for David Moyes' team.While Chelsea’s star power and big-match experience makes the west London club favourites to win the Wembley clash, Cahill is convinced Everton are on the brink of something special and the Australia international wants the Toffees to make the final their coming of age party.
It is 14 years since Everton last won a major trophy – when Paul Rideout’s goal clinched a 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup final – but even that was a rare moment of triumph in a barren period.
You have to go back over 20 years to the mid-1980s for the club’s last spell at the top when Howard Kendall’s team went toe to toe with Liverpool, then the game’s pre-eminant force, and won two league titles and the FA Cup.
While more title success may be asking too much, under Moyes’s astute leadership Everton now look capable of breaking into the Premier League’s top-four and staying there.
They underlined their case by finishing fifth and knocking out Liverpool, United and Aston Villa en route to Wembley despite missing key players like Mikel Arteta and Ayegbeni Yakubu for long periods.
Victory at Wembley would validate Everton’s rise and, although Chelsea are keen to win the Cup as a farewell present for departing boss Guus Hiddink, it could be that Moyes’s success-starved players have more motivation on Saturday.
Sydney-born Cahill, who was on the losing side when he played for Millwall in the 2004 FA Cup final against United, is in no doubt that Everton can win if they show enough belief.
"We need to believe we can win. We need to believe that once we cross that white line this is our chance of winning some silverware," he said.
"It was some experience with Millwall. But this time it is an experience where I know that we have a massive chance of winning.
"Hopefully this time I can go one step further. We have got to go into the game thinking that we can do it.
"On a day like the FA Cup final, I will be looking for that telling moment that hopefully will change the game, that telling pass that might put someone in or that tackle that’s going to stop them scoring."
Everton captain Phil Neville, the former United midfielder, is one of the few players in the squad to have tasted sustained success, but he admits he would swap all that to help his current team become a major force.
"I think this club is going in the right direction. We can restore Everton to where it belongs and that is at the top of English football," Neville said.
"It is not going to be the end of the journey on Saturday, win or lose. This is just the start."
Chelsea last won the FA Cup against United in 2007. That victory remains their last piece of silverware and midfielder Frank Lampard acknowledges it is time to end the trophy drought.
"It’s very important we win something for the confidence of the club and take something away from the season," Lampard said.
"Personally the way I have played, I think it is my best season, and to round it off we do need to win the Cup."
Win or lose, it will be an emotional occasion for Hiddink, who resumes his role as Russia coach on a full-time basis immediately after the match.
Hiddink has made a big impact during his brief spell as interim manager and Lampard would love to send him home on a high.
"Our form since Guus Hiddink took over has been championship-winning form, and we only didn’t go to the Champions League final because of things that happened on the night," Lampard added.
"It will be great to finish off with a big day out and a win for him," Lampard said. "It would be lovely if we could do that. All the players here and everyone he’s worked with wants his season to finish like that."