Many of you will be waking up this morning to the news of Liam Miller’s passing. The Irish footballer died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
His death has left many in shock particularly as he was only 36 years old. One thing we have learned about cancer is that there are no barriers to its devastation including age and fitness.
Liam, a youth player at Celtic since the age of 16 made a handful of appearances in his early years at the club. He also had injury problems which the club stuck by him with.
A loan spell in Denmark with AGF Aarhus allowed him time to gain some experience and match fitness. He not would emerge as a regular in the Celtic first team until the 2003-2004 season.
He burst onto the scene like a fresh signing. Full of energy and prowess.
What a talent. By this time we knew Henrik Larssson was leaving, but we had this young kid who was already taking the game by storm.
With his explosive form and contract ending that season he was offered a new deal by Martin O’Neill. Much to everyone’s disappointment, Liam turned it down.
Instead he signed a pre-contract with Manchester United in January that season. As attractive as the offer may have been many Celtic fans, myself included, felt betrayed.
The club had stuck by Liam through his injury woes and upon a state of readiness in a team full of stars he was given his chance. Deciding to leave after a mere six months as a first team regular was like having a gift thrown back at you.
I recall never wishing to see him don the Celtic jersey for the rest of that season. He would leave Celtic under a cloud.
His career at United never really took off, playing a total of just 22 games in two seasons. He played part of that period out on loan at Leeds United before making a permanent move to relegated Sunderland.
After two-and-a-half years there, he moved to QPR on a six month deal. He was released after that and in the wilderness.
Then the Irish international returned to Scotland. Hibs came calling and enjoyed two seasons in Edinburgh.
From there he would move to Australia. In a four year spell he played for three different clubs before returning to his home city of Cork in 2015.
He played for Cork City that year before moving to America the year after. Liam also represented his country at various levels even at times when he was without a club.
Many Celtic fans were left wondering what could have been when he left for what turned out to be a nosedive in his a career at Manchester United. It won’t be anywhere near the emotional pain his family and friends will be feeling now.
Gone too soon. Always a Bhoy.