Wigan Athletic forward Noel Hunt is ‘hoping and praying’ his former Republic of Ireland room-mate Liam Miller will win his fight for life after a devastating cancer diagnosis.
The football world has been rocked with news 36-year-old Miller – who played in midfield for Celtic, Manchester United, Leeds and Sunderland during his career – is thought to be battling pancreatic cancer.
And Hunt, a close friend since their formative years, says he hasn’t been surprised by the outpouring of support from inside the game.
“I roomed with Liam for Ireland Under-21s, and he is one of the nicest men you will ever meet,” Hunt, 34, told the Wigan Post.
“You’ve seen by the reaction of everyone who knows him...he is such a lovely, lovely guy, so laid back – a great family man.
“He’s only 36, and it’s so sad. I have only fond memories of being with him.
“He loved being late, he was late for everything...and he always made me late!
“But I love him to pieces, and I hope to God it all works out for him and he has the strength to pull through.
“It’s everywhere isn’t it, it’s such a horrible disease.
“If good wishes has anything to do with it, he’ll be fine, because the whole of Ireland is praying for him.”
Ireland manager Martin O’Neill admitted Miller’s plight would give the squad extra incentive to overcome Denmark in Tuesday night’s World Cup play-off second leg in Dublin, which is poised at 0-0.
Hunt, too, believes the side will pull out a performance in Miller’s honour.
“I fancy us to win to be honest,” he added. “Every one of the boys will know Liam, and how much of a great lad he is.
“I know the boys will be trying to do it for him.
“He could easily still be in that squad, with his quality and how he plays the game.
“I remember playing against him for Celtic just before he left for Manchester United. He was such a very good player.”