'Geezer in mining boots' Milner unfazed by lack of recognition
Published 18/05/2016 | 02:30
The perception of James Milner is that he is a Yorkshire puritan; he whose industry in his work is of epic proportions; he who can just get on with it and does not speak of his sacrifice or pain with any emotion whatsoever.
And yet, when you listen to him talk about his three cup finals at Manchester City where in two of them he was unused and in another he came off the bench, you realise his frustration and why he chose to join Liverpool when he easily could have stayed.
Should it be judged that the Europa League final has come a week too soon for Jordan Henderson then Milner will captain Liverpool, driving forward from the centre of midfield - the position he favours.
It does not particularly bother him that his record of having a hand in 22 goals this season (including 14 assists) has not really earned him the recognition it should do as an attacking creative force and he is humble enough to recognise why.
"I probably don't move as gracefully as people like Phil (Coutinho); I'm a geezer in his mining boots from Yorkshire, lumping across the field," he reasons, grinning. "It might not always look pretty but as long as I'm contributing to the team that's the main thing."
That accounts, indeed, for why it bothered him, when, having played in all of the rounds up to one of those finals for City, he was left out at Wembley.
"The one that stung me the most was when we'd won the trophy and the manager came up to me and said 'I should have played you,' but he never did. I thought that was a bit pointless - I don't know what you're supposed to do with that. That one probably hurt me the most, but I'd rather not say who it was. . ."
Such disappointments were factored into his deliberation when Liverpool offered to take him away last summer.
"I'm 30 now, and although that's not old, it's probably the latter phase of my career, and I want to play as much as I can and look back and think I left nothing out there, no wasted games. You want to be remembered for what you've won and what sort of player you are."
Despite finishing eighth in the Premier League, should Liverpool beat Sevilla, they will qualify for the Champions League.
"The funny thing is that I don't think any of us have really thought about the Champions League," Milner says. "It's all about winning that trophy. Obviously, the Champions League is a nice bonus.
"You walk into the reception at Melwood and all the honours are listed there. I want to ensure the club has to get someone in over the summer to change that number." (© Independent News Service)