Friday 23 August 2019

Martin O'Neill leads tributes to former Ireland, Celtic and Man United star Liam Miller (36) battling cancer

Liam Miller in action for Cork in 2015
Liam Miller in action for Cork in 2015 Newsdesk Newsdesk

Former Ireland, Celtic and Manchester United star Liam Miller is battling cancer.

The 36-year-old Cork native has been based in the US but he is reported to be flying back to Ireland today.

BBC and Scottish Herald pundit Tam McManus, says that the midfielder is "fighting hard".

Miller, who had been playing for Wilmington Hammerheads in the American third-tier United Soccer League, has played 21 times for the Republic of Ireland and enjoyed a successful spell with Cork City after returning to play in Ireland in 2015.

He shot to prominence under Martin O'Neill at Celtic before joining Man United as a 23-year-old in 2004.

Miller made nine appearances for the Red Devils in two seasons before going on to represent Leeds, Sunderland, QPR, Hibernian, Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar.

Speaking the today's press conference, Ireland boss O'Neill paid tribute to his former player.

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

"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."

Miller made his professional debut for Celtic in 2000 after coming through the youth ranks at Parkhead and helped them win the Scottish Premier League title in 2004.

The Scottish champions said in a post on their official Twitter account: "The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Celtic Football Club are with Liam Miller and his family at this time."

He then moved south to Manchester United on a free transfer, making 22 appearances under Sir Alex Ferguson in two seasons - which included a spell on loan at Leeds - before joining Sunderland in 2006.

United also used their official Twitter account to say: "The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United go out to Liam Miller and his loved ones at this difficult time."

Miller was part of the Black Cats' squad that won promotion to the Premier League in 2007 under Roy Keane, but he was on the move again in 2009, this time to QPR.

A short spell at Loftus Road was followed by stints at Hibernian, Australian clubs Perth Glory, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City, home-town club Cork City and, most recently, Wilmington Hammerheads in America.

Cancer survivor John Hartson, who played alongside Miller at Celtic, tweeted: "My thoughts are with Liam Miller and his family this morning. Hope he can get through this difficult time of his life."

Jacob Burns, the former Leeds and Australia midfielder who is now head of football at Perth Glory, tweeted: "In shock! Thoughts and prayers are with my old team-mate and friend Liam Miller as he and his beautiful family fight through this battle!"

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