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News Archive > Sport > Miller: ‘Palace gave me the chance to fulfill my dream’

Miller: ‘Palace gave me the chance to fulfill my dream’

By Tom Howe 10th February 2021

Miller: ‘Palace gave me the chance to fulfill my dream’

In last week’s edition of the Voice, former Bodmin Town and Newquay goalkeeper Kevin Miller opened up about his time spent in Cornish football, a 15-year spell that bookended nearly two decades in the professional ranks, writes Tom Howe.

His performances culminated in a Premier League season with Crystal Palace in 1997-98, playing at famous grounds like Old Trafford, Anfield and St James Park, while coming up against the likes of David Beckham, Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Gianluca Vialli and Gianfranco Zola.

First though, in his late teens and having made the step up to Exeter City from South Western League side Newquay, Miller had the perfect grounding when working under Terry Cooper, who represented England at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico before he made way for Alan Ball, a winner with the Three Lions in 1966.

A young Miller took time to get up to speed but, once he had done so, helped the Grecians earn promotion to the third tier as Division Four champions in 1989-90, before reuniting with Cooper at Birmingham City in 1993.

“It was nerve racking to start with,” Miller told the Voice when quizzed on his first impression of professional football. “I was a Cornish lad who had just turned 19 and moved away from home for the first time. I moved into digs at the football club and knew some of the lads which made it easier for me. I didn’t play until Christmas time. We went to Maidstone in the FA Cup and drew 1-1 in my first game of the season.

“I played every game after that. We faced Norwich in the third round. They were flying in Division One and that was the year they beat Bayern Munich in the European Cup. We scored with six minutes to go to go one up and they equalised straight from the kick-off. In the replay up at Carrow Road we got beat 2-0. I think we won 22 of our 23 home league games that season, drawing one at home.

“I then went to Birmingham with Terry for about half a season before he got the sack. Barry Fry came in and they were two completely opposite managers. At the end of that season, Barry said Watford had come in for me and he wouldn’t stand in my way. I got two player of the year awards in three years at Watford. I loved my time there. Glenn Roeder signed me and I always got on with him.

“I was then at the end of my contract at Watford. They offered me a new one but the terms weren’t right. There was quite a bit of interest in me. I went to Nottingham Forest to agree terms with them but they didn’t agree a fee with Watford. Newcastle were also looking at me. In the meantime, Crystal Palace offered £1.25m plus Chris Day so I went to Palace who had just got into the Premier League and gave me a chance to fulfil my dream.”

Manchester United hero Steve Coppell was the man who secured Miller’s services for the 97-98 campaign, with the now 28-year-old rubbing shoulders with international football royalty.

During his time at Selhurst Park, Miller would also play under Attilio Lombardo and Ray Lewington, as well as a certain Terry Venables just two years after taking England to the semi-finals at Euro 96.

“I loved it, even though we got relegated,” he said. “We had some really good individuals. Attilio Lombardo and Michele Padovano who were Italy internationals, Matt Jansen, Dave Tuttle, Paul Warhurst.

The Premier League was full of top players at that time. We were flying up until November. We were sixth at one point but we couldn’t win at home.   

By Tom Howe 10th February 2021

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