Former Man Utd and Ireland skipper Roy Keane has urged people to support a testimonial game for former Manchester Utd teammate Liam Miller (36), who died earlier this year from oesophageal cancer.
Keane said he was confident that the people of Cork and the region would turn out in huge numbers for the game between a Man Utd legends selection and a joint Glasgow Celtic/Republic of Ireland selection to pay tribute to the father of three.
"I can't say that I knew Liam that well - obviously he was a teammate of mine at Utd but we didn't hang around that much together but I always had a lot of time and respect for him and then when I managed him at Sunderland, he got some huge goals for us," said the Ireland assistant manager.
“It was a huge shock to everyone when Liam passed way at just 36 . . . the response I got from ex-players, particularly the United lads - they were all up for because they had good time for Liam - it will be a great occasion and I’m sure the Cork public will support it.”
Keane - who will manage the Man United side after Sir Alex Ferguson had to pull out due to illness - revealed former Man United team mates Denis Irwin, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Jaap Stam, Rio Ferdinand, Louis Saha and Quentin Fortune have all confirmed they will play.
Meanwhile the Glasgow Celtic/Republic of Ireland selection, which will be managed by Keane's boss in the Republic of Ireland set up, Martin O'Neill, will feature Ireland's leading goalscorer, Robbie Keane, and his contemporary on the Irish team, winger Damian Duff.
The event is being organised by a group chaired by Cork developer Michael O'Flynn, a neighbour of Miller in Ovens in Mid-Cork, who remembered the young soccer player playing underage hurling and Gaelic football with local club Eire Og.
“I watched Liam playing under age hurling and football with Eire Og, and I can assure if he hadn’t gone down the football route, he would have played for Cork in both codes - he stood out as a young fellow at the age of 14 years over anyone else on the field.
“I’ve known the Miller family for 40 years, and Liam was quiet but really nice young man - nobody expects to die at the young age of 36 years and we were keen to do something for his wife, Clare, and his family and anyone we asked to be involved including the FAI has been hugely supportive.”
The testimonial - which is being played at Turners Cross on Tuesday, 25th September, is also supported by Cork City FC for whom Miller played for a season at the end of his career after stints at Glasgow Celtic, Man Utd, Leeds Utd, Sunderland, Queen's Park Rangers and Hibernian - as well as in Australia.
Cork City manager John Caulfield, just returned from Poland after Cork City's Champions League game with Legia Warsaw, said the club were delighted to be involved as they had got to know Miller's family. including children Kory, Leo and Belle, when they came to watch their father play.
Cork lord mayor Cllr Mick Finn, who is hosting a banquet on the night in Cork City Hall, said Cork was united in grief at Miller's death but added he fully expected the people of Cork to be equally united in supporting the testimonial and banquet as a fitting testament to a great Cork sportsman.
Tickets for the testimonial go on sale with Ticketmaster on Friday morning.