Liam Miller: A fine footballer who helped so many Sunderland fans fall in love all over again

Liam Miller
Liam Miller
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Liam Miller was a fine footballer and the heartfelt tributes to his memory from team-mates and friends tell you he was an equally fine man.

He had some career.

Born and raised in Cork, he played for Celtic and Manchester United, two of the biggest clubs in Britain. He represented his country and travelled the world playing the beautiful game.

On Wearside, he will forever be remembered as a key part of a squad that made so many believe and fall in love with Sunderland all over again.

Many have passed his tally of three league goals in a red and white shirt, but how many can say they have left such an indelible mark on the history of such a proud club?

Those three strikes will live on in folklore, all vital goals at vital stages of an exhilarating era.

Miller arrived as one of six deadline day signings in August 2006, marking the confidence and ambition of the Drumaville Consortium and Roy Keane as manager.

In Keane and Miller's first game, Sunderland turned around a one-goal deficit to beat Derby County in a stirring comeback. That would be the hallmark of Miller's time at the club. This was a squad that never knew they were beaten. They had a go at everyone, even in the Premier League season that followed. The Stadium of Light felt like a fortress once more and so many points were won with late goals in the dying embers of games.

Miller scored two of the finest. The first, a crisp strike against Derby County in front of 36,000 supporters, a sign of the reawakening of a club that had been worn down by years of malaise.

The second came in the next season and for many was even more memorable, a truly stunning volley against Middlesbrough to seal a point when the game looked certain to be lost.

His first goal for the club had come in Keane's second game, an accomplished finish in a 3-0 win over Leeds United the sparked one of the most dizzying, electrifying year in the club's history.

Miller was a technically sound player and his spirit made him a perfect fit for Keane's squad.

The tributes paid by team-mates tell you of a quiet but dry and immensely warm character.

Stephen Elliott wrote on Twitter: "Liam was a great team mate and room mate. He was also a top opponent. But most of all he is one of the few people in football who I consider a true friend. I'm absolutely devastated for him and his young family. I'm sure he is resting with the angels now. RIP Chewy love you."

Tobias Hysen wrote: "Trying to wrap my head around the fact that Liam is gone. Played with him for one season only. But as well as Marton Fulop, he was always one to bring a smile to my face, at a time that wasn’t always great for me as a person. Thank you both and my thoughts are with your loved ones."

Andy Reid added: "Gutted to hear the news Liam miller has left us, played with him for Ireland from U16's 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."

Just minutes into the game against Bristol City, the 1,600 strong travelling support broke out into a chorus of 'One Liam Miller'.

Many took to social media after the game to point out what a fitting tribute the stirring comeback at Ashton Gate was to his memory.

To those that knew him, he will be remembered as fine, funny man. To the Sunderland supporters who watched him, he, alongside the much-loved Marton Fulop, will be remembered as as a player who represented the club with rare distinction and gave them some of their finest, most treasured memories.

That is some legacy.

Liam Miller will be sorely missed, but forever remembered.