Miller achieves his dream
EXCLUSIVEBy Derek DavisCIRCUITOUS and serendipitous it may have been, but Adam Miller has finally achieved his dream of playing professionally.Not only that - but the once-discarded Miller is set to make his home debut in the Championship for QPR against the club that he parted company from as a youngster, when Ipswich Town go to Loftus Road on Saturday.
CIRCUITOUS and serendipitous it may have been, but Adam Miller has finally achieved his dream of playing professionally.
Not only that - but the once-discarded Miller is set to make his home debut in the Championship for QPR against the club that he parted company from as a youngster, when Ipswich Town go to Loftus Road on Saturday.
The 22-year-old former Colchester schoolboy was snapped up by Ian Holloway last month after watching him playing for Aldershot Reserves, and was given a fairytale debut last week at Nottingham Forest.
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Miller was deemed a prodigious midfielder as a young Blue, but left in acrimonious circumstances after a bust-up with George Burley at 19. Despite interest from a number of league clubs, no concrete offers came and he ended up at non-league Canvey Island.
From there he went to Grays, had a spell at Gravesend before landing up at Aldershot.
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After four years in the non-league wilderness, it seemed the big move was never going to happen but, when it did, it was in incredible circumstances.
In early November, Aldershot were leading 3-0 at Morecambe, with Miller scoring the third, but ended up drawing 3-3. The manager was naturally livid and forced the first team to play a reserve fixture the following Tuesday.
It was played at QPR and in the crowd was a certain Ian Holloway. Miller scored one and made two others and the next day the Rangers boss wasted no time in making an offer. The accepted bid is an Aldershot record, which is officially undisclosed (but thought to be worth around £350,000 with add-ons) and Miller signed his first professional contract on November 30 - his mum's birthday.
Miller made his first-team debut, again somewhat fortuitously, when midfielder Marc Bircham fell ill on the day of the game at Nottingham Forest.
Miller didn't miss a beat, played really well and was kept on for the whole 90 minutes, even though Rangers lost after going ahead through former Town defender Georges Santos.
Miller said: “I could not have asked for a better personal debut. I was devastated to lose the game but felt I did well enough and played the whole match.
“If I play on Saturday, either coming off the bench or starting, it will be truly incredible. I'm a life-long QPR fan, my dad used to take us when we were kids and we stayed at our grans and went to the match.
“He is chuffed to bits, he gets ribbed at work for being a QPR fan, but he is loving it now because he can come and see me play there rather than Aldershot.”
Miller still lives in Colchester and keeps an eye on Town's progress but, while it is one of those footballing quirks that he makes his home debut against the Blues, he holds no malice towards his old club.
He said: “I don't need the extra motivation. I'm up and ready for every game and what happened was a while ago anyway. It will be the same when we play Derby. I will be up for the game anyway, even with George Burley the manager there now. Every game will be like a debut for me, coming in as late as I have.”
Miller progressed from the Academy into the Town's reserves during the Blues' second year in the Premiership and found breaking into the first team a tough task at Portman Road, and he ran out of patience.
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He had words with Burley, who decided it was best to let him go. He trialled at Southend United, among other clubs, ended up at Canvey Island and, for a while, it looked as if he was stuck on the non-league scrap-heap.
Miller said: “I was young and stupid back then, and behaved like a Muppet sometimes. I was not ready to be a full professional. I had four years in the non-league but I learnt a lot and I'm a much better player and person for it.”
Miller blossomed at Aldershot under manager Terry Brown and his assistant Martin Kuhl, both of whom he credits with giving him a lot of advice, on and off the pitch.
The dream of playing league football was shattered when he was in the Shots side that lost out on penalties in the Conference play-offs to Shrewsbury. Miller had a good enough season to be named the Non-League Player of the Year and left the Recreation Ground with 12 goals in 53 appearances - all from midfield.
He follows a trail of latecomers into the league. Former QPR hero Les Ferdinand joined them from Hayes, while Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle are others who went on to play for England, while Wayne Andrews and Fitz Hall and more recent examples.
Miller said: “I'm still relatively young and will quickly gain the experience. A lot of players have benefited from becoming professionals later on, It makes them hungry and I'm hungrier than all of them. I want to repay the faith Ian Holloway has shown in me and those people who believed in me all these years.”
He is quickly adjusting to the professional way of life, the dressing room banter and seeing his team-mates drive up in Mercedes and BMWs while he still has a Ford Fiesta.
Miller said: “There is plenty of time for all that later, right now I just enjoy playing and being a professional footballer.”
Adam Miller is no relation to Justin Miller, who left Town to join Leyton Orient, or Tommy Miler, who was discarded by Town as a teenager only to be bought back for £1m from Hartlepool.
With Bircham fit, and Martin Rowland back in training, Miller may have to settle for a place on the bench on Saturday but it will be a genuine footballing fairytale if he does make his second appearance - especially against Ipswich.