Socceroos great Tim Cahill has negotiated an exit from A-League side Melbourne City as he seeks the perfect preparation for next year's World Cup.
On Wednesday -- his birthday -- Cahill and City tore up his playing deal, allowing the striker to find a club to give him the game time he craves ahead of Russia 2018.
But whether Cahill has enhanced or diminished his prospects of starring at a fourth tournament remains to be seen.
Cahill has effectively put his country -- and own his ambitions to join an elite three-man group including Pele as a scorer at four tournaments -- ahead of City by walking out on the club.
The veteran went public with his demand for more playing time in the aftermath of Australia's 3-1 win over Honduras that sealed the Socceroos' place in Russia.
Cahill has started just one A-League game for City this season, in which he injured his ankle ahead of the Honduras playoff.
Showdown talks between Cahill and club coach Warren Joyce have failed to resolve the situation -- leading to the Socceroos' record goalscorer packing his bags.
"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," Cahill said in a statement.
Cahill has yet to announce his next destination but will spend at least the next month without the ability to play competitively, given the closed international transfer window.
His departure statement suggests his time in Australia is up.
At 38, he is unlikely to return to Europe.
Leagues in the United States and China -- where he has previously played -- are in off-season, as are Japan and South Korea.
A more likely destination could be the UAE, where close friend and Socceroos teammate Ryan McGowan is currently based.
The Arabian Gulf League's transfer window opens next week, with a brief break before the resumption of matches in early January.
"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," Cahill said.
He scored the only goal in the 2016 FFA Cup final, capturing the first trophy for City's senior men's team.
Cahill's departure comes amid major ructions at the A-League club.
Joyce has overlooked several players, including Cahill, in his desire to chart a new course for the club -- which has struggled for on and off-field success in eight seasons in the league.
Joyce has preferred on-loan striker Ross McCormack to Cahill, but said City would be weaker without Cahill's influence.
"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," he said.
"I have appreciated the contribution he has made both on and off the field and the dedication he has shown in training."