BY ALAN TEMPLE – CCP_Sport
CELTIC star Calvin Miller is adamant becoming a father has afforded him a maturity far beyond his years, while giving him the drive and determination to realise his undoubted potential.
Miller, 19, hails from Castlemilk and readily admits to being something of a teenage tearaway; a ‘daft kid from the scheme’ indulging in harmless hijinks with his mates.
However, he fondly recalls how the penny dropped when his daughter was born. Only 17 at the time, he immediately vowed to grow up quickly and dedicate his life and career to baby Olivia.
She will be three in April, and Miller has been as good as his word. Impressing Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers with his work ethic and versatility, he has represented Celtic on three occasions at senior level and is in contention to line up for Scotland’s under-21 side against Latvia tomorrow evening.
As usual, his biggest fan will be cheering him on at McDiarmid Park.
“I was young when I had my daughter,” he said. “The minute Olivia arrived it just changed my life. It’s made me more focused and determined to go and make a life for my family.
“So far it’s going along the right pathway and I’m happy and enjoying it.
“I was definitely fairly immature before I had a kid and within the next day I was mature! It changes you as a person. You grow up. You’ve got people to go and buy for and live for, so you need to do it for them.
“It was meant to be, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. No matter what else has happened, it is always a good day when you see your kid. It makes me want to go and do more for her.
“Before that, I was just a daft boy from the scheme enjoying myself. I just got involved in stupid carry-on, like you expect when you’re 16 years of age.
“I was 17 when Olivia was born and it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. She comes to my games so I’ve got that support from her.”
As he prepares to enjoy an outing in the dark blue of Scotland, Miller can count himself unfortunate to have not enjoyed more minutes for Celtic.
Having been reinvented as a left-back – or wing-back, as Miller prefers to term it – he impressed in two wins over Kilmarnock and a triumph against Partick Thistle.
However, he has the considerable task of dislodging arguably the best player in Scotland at the moment, Kieran Tierney. Not an easy feat.
Nevertheless he is relishing the opportunity to learn from the hottest prospect in the SPFL and is determined to prove he is a ready-made replacement should Tierney be struck down by injury, suspension, or if an irresistible offer tempts him away.
“Kieran has just taken his chance,” continued Miller. “Since training with the first team he has become a much better player and has shown incredible consistency.
“He is a good friend so I’m very happy for him, but the gaffer has said I’m second choice, so if I get a chance then I’m ready to go in and play.
“The gaffer is brave enough to give young players a chance and, if you get thrown in, then you need to take the opportunity. He will keep playing you if you show you are good enough.”
In the meantime, Miller is content training every day with the likes of Scott Sinclair, Moussa Dembele and Scott Brown, while also enjoying international exposure as part of Scot Gemmill’s group.
“I’m developing every day and becoming a better player under a great manager,” added Miller. “You do feel like when you have been in the team once, you are always going to be in the squad, but I know I am still young and there are great players ahead of me.
“I just need to work hard in training. It is a different intensity training with the first-team, playing with the best players in Scotland.
“That calibre of players just teach you so much and, ever since I changed position, I feel like a completely different player.
“Hopefully I can become more reliable, and if the manager puts me in again I can show I can be trusted.”