independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Liam Miller admits he has no regrets leaving Celtic for Old Trafford

Liam Miller during his time with the Republic of Ireland

Liam Miller insists he has no regrets about joining Manchester United even though he never had a chance to fulfil the promise that got him to Old Trafford in the first place.

Miller will face his old club in Sydney on Saturday as part of the A-League All Stars line-up seven years after he was forced to quit in search of more games.

The former Republic of Ireland midfielder made only 22 appearances after he turned down a lucrative contract offer from Celtic to join United on a Bosman transfer.

Of those, only 11 were starts, including just three in the Premier League. And most of the time he ended up on the right wing.

Within 18 months of his arrival, Miller was being loaned out to Leeds, the idea of him emulating fellow Cork-born midfielder Roy Keane blown away completely.

"You don't have a crystal ball to see how things like that are going to work out," said Miller.

"Even so, I can't say I have any regrets. It was a great environment to be around. Training every day, learning from some of the players there.

"I still look back on it as a tremendous experience. But I did think I would be playing a bigger part.

"I played more on the right wing than I ever had in my career. It was not a role I enjoyed and by the end I wasn't playing.

"I suppose I could have just sat on the bench for five years but there comes a point when a player has to say enough is enough.

"I chose to leave and get first-team football somewhere else."

Somewhere else was initially on loan at Leeds, then Sunderland under Roy Keane before Miller moved on to QPR and back to the Scottish Premier League with Hibs.

But two years ago, at the age of 30, Miller took a call from former Rangers midfielder Ian Ferguson, who had emigrated to Australia some years before and was the then coach at Perth Glory.

It did not take Miller and his family long to decide a change of scene was an enticing prospect and the 21-cap former Republic of Ireland international has been Down Under ever since, leaving Glory to join Brisbane Roar earlier this year.

"Australia wasn't something I planned for and I didn't know much about the Australian league before I came out," said Miller.

"But I have loved every minute. There are drawbacks; there is no flying the parents out for weekends.

"But it is a beautiful country and the he A-League is good. It is unfair to compare it to the Premier League but it has improved massively in the two years I have been here.

"The three marquee signings - Alessandro del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono - have generated a lot of interest and hopefully it will open the door to many more big stars coming out and getting the A-League recognised even more."

Those big names will be missing at the weekend, which is something of a frustration to organiser given United's first visit since 1999 is an 83,500 sell-out.

Miller is looking forward to the occasion though, a reminder of a period of his life when, if nothing else, he can look back on and say he was once a team-mate of Cristiano Ronaldo.

"You could see the potential he had," said Miller.

"He was by no means the finished article and the talent he had was raw. But you can't teach what he could do.

"He had such quick feet and his movement was amazing. Don't get me wrong, he still worked incredibly hard but the attributes he had were special. It was obvious to everyone.

"It is no real surprise he has gone on to become what he has."

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