Sport Soccer

Friday 23 February 2018

'He served city, county and country with distinction' - Tributes pour in for ex-Ireland international Liam Miller (36)

The midfielder has been described as a "fantastic person", an "outstanding athlete" and a "great teammate"

Liam Miller in action for Ireland against Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier at Croke Park in Dublin in 2009. Picture: Sportsfile
Liam Miller in action for Ireland against Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier at Croke Park in Dublin in 2009. Picture: Sportsfile
Liam Miller
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

President Michael D Higgins has led the tributes after former Celtic, Manchester United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Liam Miller passed away last night following a battle with cancer.

The Corkman (36) flew home from the USA late last year after being diagnosed, where he had been playing with the Wilmington Hammerheads in the American third-tier United Soccer League.

Miller shot to prominence under Martin O'Neill at Celtic before joining Man United as a 23-year-old in 2004, making nine league appearances in two seasons for the Red Devils before going on to play for Leeds, Sunderland, QPR, Hibernian, Perth Glory, Brisbane Roar, Melbourne City and Cork City.

He also won 21 Ireland caps, scoring one goal, a long-range effort against Sweden in what was Steve Staunton's first game as manager.

Liam Miller should be remembered as a great achiever after playing for Celtic and Manchester United
Liam Miller should be remembered as a great achiever after playing for Celtic and Manchester United

"It is with great sadness that I learned of the death of Liam Miller, who brought skill and passion to his games, for the Republic of Ireland, Cork City, Celtic, Manchester Utd," President Higgins said. 

"I send my condolences to his family and friends, and all those who love Irish sport."

Amid the flood of tributes, Celtic's official Twitter account said: "Everyone at #CelticFC is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former midfielder Liam Miller. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time."

Man United also tweeted their condolences: "Manchester United is deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of our former midfielder Liam Miller. We extend our condolences to his loved ones at this extremely difficult time."

Cork Schoolboys League also paid tribute to the footballer.

"We have received the very sad news that Liam Miller has passed away tonight. The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the CSL are with Liam's family tonight. A minutes silence will be observed in all CSL games this weekend in Liam's memory. May he rest in peace."

Hibernian FC also paid tribute to their former midfielder.

"We are incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of former Hibernian midfielder Liam Miller. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time."

Liam Miller, who fulfilled his boyhood dream of playing for Celtic, has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 36
Liam Miller, who fulfilled his boyhood dream of playing for Celtic, has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 36

Former Ireland striker Clinton Morrison described his teammate as "a great guy."

"RIP Liam miller was a honour to play with you such a good footballer and a great guy as well such sad news thoughts go out to his family at this sad time."

Off the Ball presenter and former Ireland teammate Kevin Kilbane said: "Sad hearing the awful news that Liam Miller has passed away this evening, taken far so soon by a terrible disease. Proud to have shared a dressing room with him over the years."

Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill told Independent.ie: "As a fan I particularly remember him playing for Celtic and latterly for Cork City. He just missed out on Cork City's purple patch with Dundalk dominant.

"The sympathies and thoughts of the Cork sporting community are with his family in Ovens and all the football community who have such positive memories of such an outstanding athlete."

RTE's John Creedon also paid a touching tribute on social media.

"Heartbreaking to hear that Liam Miller, who served city, county, country and family with distinction has left the pitch."

He grew up in Ovens, a village in Cork, and although he played Gaelic football, his real passion was soccer, with a fondness for Celtic taken from his father Billy, a Scotsman from Motherwell.

He joined the Parkhead club at the age of 15 and, on May 21, 2000, in Kenny Dalglish's last game as Hoops manager, he made his debut as a second-half substitute in a 2-0 home win over Dundee United.

A loan spell at Aarhus in Denmark followed and the talented playmaker with good pace and mobility did not break into the Celtic first team properly until 2003/04 and he picked up a Ladbrokes Premiership medal that season.

Miller, a quiet man not prone to breast-beating, initially took some stick from the Parkhead fans when he controversially rejected the offer of a new deal from the Glasgow club to sign for Alex Ferguson's Manchester United on a 'Bosman' at the end of the season.

"I gave him his debut and he played wonderfully well in a Champions League game one evening, he was absolutely outstanding," O'Neill said last year.

"The news, we heard about it just recently, we didn't know how bad it was. All our thoughts go out to them. A very young man, 36 years of age, it puts things in perspective anyway."

Former Celtic team-mate Mark Burchill said on his Twitter account: "Can't believe my old team-mate Liam miller @CelticFC has passed away today.. taken far too soon.. horrific news.. thoughts and prayers with his family at this time #RipLiam".

Miller is survived by his wife Clare and three children Kory, Leo and Belle.

Additional reporting from PA

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