This afternoon, thousands will descend on the city of Cork to pay tribute to one of its sons, Liam Miller who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.
Former teammates will honour his memory by taking part in the Liam Miller Tribute match in Pairc Ui Chaoimh with Roy Keane taking charge of a Man United side that includes Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
They will face a Republic of Ireland/Celtic team managed by Martin O’Neill and containing players such as Robbie Keane, Damien Duff and John Hartson.
Ahead of the game, Miller’s long-time teammate and friend, John O’Shea has penned a tribute to the 36-year-old in which he described him as “talented”, “great fun” and “a top professional”.
O’Shea revealed that he was very close to joining Miller at Celtic but was delighted when he heard that he was making the move to Manchester.
“Every time we used to meet up with Ireland, at whatever level, Liam used to bombard me with questions. He wanted to know about the United players. Asking about Roy Keane, asking about Paul Scholes, asking about midfield players because they were the ones he was mainly interested in.
In late 2003 and early 2004, there were a lot of rumours that Sir Alex had been up to watch Liam playing for Celtic in the Champions League and that he was interested in signing him. I still vividly remember the day I heard for sure that he was coming to United. I was in the canteen at Carrington, having a bit of toast, and the manager came in.
“Your pal’s on his way down.”
It was a great moment, hearing that.”
The former Republic of Ireland international described how Miller found it difficult to break into an extremely competitive midfield at the club but he worked exceptionally hard to make himself stand out.
“He was a top professional, too. So energetic and unbelievably fit. In fitness tests, he’d smash the bleep test and be right up among the top results. His energy was incredible. That’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to comprehend what happened with his illness. It makes it even sadder because he had amazing fitness levels.”
A sell-out crowd will attend today’s game with all proceeds going towards the Liam Miller fund, helping his family and various charities.
O’Shea believes the occasion will give his family an opportunity to see how well he was thought of.
“Obviously we’d all rather this match didn’t have to take place and we’d rather have Liam with us, but in the circumstances it’s a great thing to be happening. The turnout on and off the pitch will show how much Liam was liked and I hope Clare, the kids and all the family will realise that when they see this match. It will, of course, be a sad day, but it’s really something to cherish.
They’ll all see how highly thought of he was.”
You can read his full tribute on the Man United website here.
Kick off in Cork is 3pm and the game will be broadcast live on Virgin Media Three.