Wednesday 12 December 2018

Talented Miller made his mark in five countries

Liam Miller in action for Ireland at Lansdowne Road. Photo: Sportsfile
Liam Miller in action for Ireland at Lansdowne Road. Photo: Sportsfile

Sean Ryan

Liam Miller, who has died after a battle with cancer, was a talented midfielder who first came to prominence as a member of Brian Kerr's Irish under 16 European Champion squad in 1998. A relative latecomer to soccer, GAA having been his first love, he was signed by Celtic but had to wait until 2003 before becoming a first team regular under Martin O'Neill and winning an SPL medal.

At Celtic, he produced some notable performances, especially in European games, where his role behind the strikers made him virtually unmarkable. To the disappointment of O'Neill, who had planned to build his team around him, he moved to Manchester United. Alex Ferguson played him on the wing, where he failed to make an impression, and he was eventually loaned to Leeds United.

Roy Keane restored his career by signing him at Sunderland, and he was a key part of the team which won the Championship in 2007. Subsequent moves to QPR and Hibernian were less successful, but he retained the confidence of Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni, earning a total of 22 caps, and scoring a stunning goal against Sweden in a 3-0 win at the start of Steve Staunton's reign. His international debut was as sub in 2004 under his old mentor, Brian Kerr.

Miller spent three years in Australia before returning home in 2015 and signing for Cork City. After one season, he was on the move again, to America, where he had begun coaching before he was struck down with cancer.

President Higgins issued a statement saying: "I send my condolences to his family and friends, and to all those who love and support Irish sport and who will keenly feel his loss."

He is survived by his wife Clare, two sons and a daughter.

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