Fall from Grace – Liam Miller

liam_millerLiam Miller at one point seemed destined for great things, but now 28, he finds himself playing for Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League instead of one turning out for one of Europe’s leading clubs.

His start at Celtic was an impressive one and Miller’s best early performances came in high-profile games against Rangers and Lyon. When Miller left Celtic for Manchester United in 2004, Celtic’s then-manager Martin O’Neill was not a happy man. He had envisaged the young Irishman as a key member of his first-team squad for many years to come. He even said “I wanted to build a new Celtic team around him,” demonstrating exactly how much potential he felt the player had. His departure from Celtic angered many fans as he left on a free transfer and this was seen as an act of great disloyalty given that the club had stood by Miller as he recovered from a serious long-term injury.

Miller arrived at United with a great deal of expectation placed upon him; he was labelled the ‘next Roy Keane’ soon after joining United. Given that Roy Keane is one of the greatest players to have turned out for United, it was unfair to put such pressure on Miller. He struggled to live up to the billing at Old Trafford and only made 9 league appearances before being loaned out to Leeds. While at United, Miller was one of a number of players criticised by Roy Keane for not being good enough, but ironically his next club was Sunderland who were managed by Keane at the time.

Miller did well at Sunderland at first as he helped them gain promotion to the Premier League in 2007 with 30 league appearances in that season. He continued to play a key role in the top-flight but his relationship with Keane became strained as a result of poor discipline and timekeeping issues. He was eventually placed on the transfer list and moved to QPR for six months. After being released by QPR it was perhaps Miller’s lowest moment as a footballer and he failed to find a club during the summer. Miller then took matters into his own hands and phoned the manager of Hibernian to offer his services; he was offered a two-year deal and is now enjoying his best form back in Scotland. Miller was voted Player of the Month in October and the age of 28 appears to be finally getting his career back on track.

Going from ‘the next Roy Keane’ to be being transfer-listed by Keane himself is certainly a note-worthy fall from grace, but happily for Miller he appears to have sorted himself out and though Hibernian are a long way from Manchester United, he is at least enjoying some semblance of success with them.