West Brom hero Richard Sneekes pays tribute to ‘superb keeper and human’ Alan Miller

Albion hero Alan Miller was a ‘superb keeper and a superb human being’, said fellow former Baggies star Richard Sneekes.

Alan Miller
Alan Miller

Miller died aged 51 on Thursday with Albion saying they were ‘desperately saddened’ by his passing.

The popular shot-stopper began his career at Arsenal, before going on to make 103 appearances for the Baggies and 64 for Middlesbrough. He also had spells at Birmingham, Blackburn and St Johnstone before retiring from the game in 2003 due to a back injury.

And Sneekes said his abiding memory of Miller would be his stunning performance for Albion against Birmingham at The Hawthorns in 1997.

Albion won that game 1-0 courtesy of a Sneekes goal, but the Dutchman said the result had far more to do with a string of stunning saves from Miller, who kept out wave after wave of Blues attacks.

“It was a huge shock to hear about Big Al,” Sneekes told the Express & Star. “He was the same age as me so to hear the news was really sadenning. It makes you realise it could happen to anybody.

“He was a superb keeper and a superb human being. He was a very popular guy within the dressing room for us at the time. He was a team-man, great for the atmosphere in the dressing room and always one to organise things off the pitch too. Big Al was definitely one of the bigger characters in the team and always had plenty to say.”

Sneekes said he had heard from an Albion-supporting friend on Thursday night that Miller had died and spoke to former team-mate Daryl Burgess, who was still in touch with the ex-glovesman.

“I rang Daryl who was still in touch with Al. He rang around and he told me he it was thought he had a heart attack.

“It was really hard to hear and it makes you question your own mortality when you about someone so young.”

Sneekes, who played more than 250 games for the Baggies, said the game against Blues would go down as one of the finest performances he had seen by an Albion goalkeeper. “That Blues game is really the one that sticks out in my mind,” added Sneekes. “I scored a breakaway goal that won the game but Al had made save after save. That’s what really won the game. He was superb.

Alan Miller

“It was on the TV and they interviewed the two of us afterwards and I accidentally swore – I’ll never forget the look on his face when I did it. He looked at me like: ‘You can’t say that when you’re live on Sky!’. In that era, if you ask any Albion fan about goalkeepers they’ll tell you Russell Hoult and Alan Miller were the top two. They’ve never forgotten him.”

Burgess, who remained close friends with Miller long after their time together at The Hawthorns, said he was ‘shell-shocked and devastated’ by the news.

“It’s so hard to get my head around the fact that he’s no longer with us,” said Burgess. “We’d stayed in touch and we would meet up.

“Everybody who came across Alan would say what a great guy he was.

“He was a great player and a great team-mate.

“He was brilliant on the pitch and off it on the social side. But he was an ultimate professional.”

Burgess recalled the Blues victory but said there were many other instances in which Miller excelled for Albion.

“I remember him from his first period on loan and when he joined us full-time, he was the best goalkeeper I played with in my time at West Brom.

“As a player and as a character, he was fantastic. I watched the highlights of that Blues game and you forget how many great saves he made in that game.

“But that wasn’t a one-off. Loads of times he made great saves – too many to remember.”

Former England and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman added to the tributes yesterday, writing on on Twitter: “I’m so saddened by the death of my great friend and teammate @alanmillergk such a larger than life character and always great fun to be around, will really miss you mate.”

Ian Wright, another former Arsenal team-mate, also paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “Gonna miss you Maxi. A great man. Such an important part of a special time at the club. Never once turned down any of the strikers for extra shooting practice no matter how hard you had been training in any kind of weather.

“Always put the team first. Rest in peace my friend.”

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