Saturday 14 December 2019

Football world unites in tributes to brave Miller

Former Ireland star to be laid to rest in home parish after death from cancer

Taken far too early: Liam Miller in action for Ireland at
Lansdowne Road. The midfielder won a total of 21 caps. Photo: Sportsfile
Taken far too early: Liam Miller in action for Ireland at Lansdowne Road. The midfielder won a total of 21 caps. Photo: Sportsfile

Alan O'Keeffe and Fergus McDonnell

Former Ireland footballer Liam Miller will be laid to rest in his native parish of Ovens in Cork tomorrow.

The former Celtic and Manchester United midfield player died of pancreatic cancer, aged 36, last Friday.

Celtic players wore black armbands in his memory in their Scottish Cup tie against Partick Thistle at Parkhead yesterday.

Flags were flown at half mast and a minute's silence was impeccably observed. Supporters placed shirts and scarves on rails.

Leeds United players wore black armbands yesterday for Miller who was loaned to the club in the 2005/06 season.

Manchester United will wear black armbands when they play Newcastle today.

President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Maxwells
President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Maxwells

President Michael D Higgins joined other politicians and former football stars in paying tribute to the father-of-three.

Miller's last club was Wilmington Hammerheads in the US. He moved back to Ireland late last year after receiving the cancer diagnosis.

He had "brought skill and passion to his games, for the Republic of Ireland, Cork City, Celtic and Manchester United," said the President.

Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Shane Ross said: "Liam was so young and it is devastating for his family, friends and colleagues to have lost him so early in life.

Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand

"Liam was full of courage on and off the field, and we can see from the emotional tributes that he gave joy and inspiration to so many.

"He was a magnificent role model who will be sorely missed. Our deepest condolences to his wife Clare, children Kory, Leo and Belle, his extended family and friends at this tragic time."

Miller rose to prominence under Martin O'Neill at Celtic before joining Manchester 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 United, Sunderland, QPR, Hibernian, Perth Glory, Brisbane Roar, Melbourne City and Cork City.

He won 21 Ireland caps, scoring one goal, a long-range effort against Sweden.

The quiet-spoken Corkman played Gaelic football as a boy but developed a passion for soccer and Celtic, his Scottish father's favourite club. He joined the Glasgow club at 15 and made his debut for the team in May 2000.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said: "It is awful news. So young, 36 years of age. The dream of lots of Irish boys is to come across and play for Celtic and he did that and had a fantastic career.

"To lose your life that young and leave a young family behind is so sad."

Former England international Rio Ferdinand, a team-mate at Old Trafford, spoke about the Irishman on BT Sport's pre-match coverage yesterday.

"A great guy and again, sad to see someone taken away so early. He didn't say much but he was a quality person. You could see he was a really pure, genuine guy," he said.

Former team-mate David Beckham tweeted "Our thoughts are with Liam's family", while Wayne Rooney said he was "gutted" by the news.

Cork Schoolboys League said a minute's silence would be observed before all CSL games this weekend in Miller's memory.

Off the Ball presenter and former Ireland team-mate Kevin Kilbane said he was "taken far too soon by a terrible disease. Proud to have shared a dressing room with him over the years", he said.

FAI chief executive John Delaney said: "A gifted midfielder, Liam helped the Ireland Under-16s win the Uefa European Championships.

"He went on to forge a fine senior career that saw him pull on the green jersey for Ireland at senior level - and we will all remember his superb goal against Sweden. While Liam achieved a lot as a player, he still had a lot more to give and that is the most tragic aspect of his passing."

RTE broadcaster John Creedon said on social media: "Heartbreaking to hear that Liam Miller, who served city, county, country and family with distinction has left the pitch."

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