Tributes flow for 'top player and great person' Miller

2018-02-10 10:43:20

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to former Republic of Ireland midfielder Liam Miller, who died on Friday at the age of 36 after suffering from pancreatic cancer.

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

"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. and other clubs," said President Higgins.

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

Miller's former team-mates and clubs expressed their shock and sadness on social media, with fellow Ireland international Andy Reid calling the Cork man "a great lad with a brilliant dry sense of humour and fine player".

Steven Reid said he was a "top player and a great person" while Kevin Kilbane said he was "proud to have shared a dressing room with him". Kevin Doyle added that Miller was "a gentleman".

Celtic, whose players will wear black armbands in Miller's memory during their William Hill Scottish Cup match against Partick Thistle on Saturday, tweeted: "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. RIP Liam, YNWA."

Gutted to hear the news Liam miller has left us, played with him for ireland from u16s all the way up and then again for Sunderland, he was a great lad with a brilliant dry sense of humour and fine player! Puts life into perspective, cherish every moment! #RIPLiamMiller

February 10, 2018

Gutted to hear the news that Liam Miller has lost his battle. Proud to have had him as a team mate. Thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time pic.twitter.com/cwXQJ45h0D

February 10, 2018

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. #RIPLiamMiller

February 9, 2018

RIP Liam Miller. Was lucky enough to room with Liam on a few international trips.. top player and a great person. Thoughts and prayers with his loved ones. 🙏🏽

February 9, 2018

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 💔🙏🏾

February 9, 2018

Extremely sad news,Rest in peace Liam Miller, a gentleman

February 9, 2018

The former Celtic, Manchester United and Ireland midfielder fulfilled two boyhood dreams.

Miller grew up in the Cork village of Ovens, 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 before the talented playmaker broke into the Celtic first team in 2003-04 under Martin O'Neill, picking up a Scottish Premier League 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.

O'Neill was pragmatic, saying: "We're all disappointed that Liam's going to be leaving. But contrary to what some people might think, I have not got a problem playing him. Whatever reaction he'll get from the Celtic fans I think Liam will be able to cope with it."

Before he left Parkhead, Miller won the first of 21 caps with the Republic of Ireland in a 2-1 win over Czech Republic at Lansdowne Road - "getting onto the pitch was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life, I've always dreamed about it and it came true" - and he scored once for his country, in a 3-0 win over Sweden in 2006.

Liam Miller playing for Manchester United in 2004

Miller struggled to establish himself in United's central midfield and he had a loan spell at Leeds in 2005.

The Irishman joined Sunderland in 2006 and spent three years with the Black Cats, then bossed by former United team-mate Roy Keane, winning the Football League Championship in 2006-07 before moving to QPR in January 2009 only to be released that May.

The next move was back to Scotland where he signed for Hibernian, staying at Easter Road for two seasons before moving to Australia's A-League where he joined Perth Glory.

After spells at Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City he returned to Ireland in 2015 to join Cork City.

A year later he was off to Wilmington Hammerheads in the United States before returning to his home town last November after being diagnosed with his illness.

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. RIP Liam, YNWA. pic.twitter.com/vMkT1CtJ2m

February 9, 2018

In an interview published in the Irish Examiner in February 2015,  following his return to Cork, Miller refuted any notion that his career had not reached the heights it had promised.

"I genuinely look back and think, 'I played for Celtic', my boyhood club," he said.

"I dreamed of playing for Man United and I got that opportunity as well. I don't know how many other people can say they played for their two childhood clubs, or even one childhood club.

"Of course, I would have loved to play more games, don't get me wrong, but I got to learn from some of the best players ever. Looking back, it was wonderful.

"Growing up for me, I just wanted to play football. And as I got better and better, the opportunities came around for me. Nothing's ever guaranteed - you could get an injury in the morning, touch wood - but I worked my socks off and the hard work paid off for me."

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