Rangers snap up former Canary youth

Chris Lakey Teenager Tom Miller is set to embark on a Roy of the Rovers-style adventure with Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers - after being rejected by Norwich City.

Chris Lakey

Teenager Tom Miller is set to embark on a Roy of the Rovers-style adventure with Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers - after being rejected by Norwich City.

The 17-year-old, a second-year scholar in City's Academy set-up, was told by manager Glenn Roeder that he was not going to be offered a professional deal and was free to leave Carrow Road this summer.

But soon after the search began for a new club, in stepped Rangers, who quickly offered Miller a staggering two-year professional deal at Ibrox.

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Miller has already been flown north of the border, had a match arranged purely to see him in action, met all the Rangers squad and, most importantly of all, signed a pre-contract deal which will see him return to Scotland on July 1 - the day after his 18th birthday.

“It was hard to take in at first,” said Miller. “They are such a big club and you don't expect to be linked with someone as big as them, but I can't wait to get up their and make a fresh start. I'm really looking forward to it.”

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Miller said City stars Dion Dublin - himself rejected by the Canaries as a teenager - and Darel Russell had helped him through recent weeks, while former assistant manager Jim Duffy had played a part in his move north.

“Rusty was a big influence, while Dion is someone you can always have a few words with and someone who knew what it was alike,” he said.

“Jim Duffy helped me a lot when he was here and I got to train with the first team then. He said if you ever have any problems to call him so I sent him a text and he spoke to Rangers.”

The teenager, from Ely, has spent the last three years with City, having previously been at local rivals Ipswich Town from the age of nine. But while Academy team-mates Damon Lathrope and Luke Daley signed professional deals with City, Miller - who was becoming a regular in City's reserve side - was told he was free to leave.

“Glenn Roeder told him he'd heard a lot of good things about him but that he wouldn't be playing for him next year,” said father Ray, who was born in Scotland but moved to Cambridgeshire at a young age.

“I'm not bitter. I've been around football long enough to know what happens. We are both realistic about it. Tom has loved his time at Norwich, but it has opened another door.”

Miller attended last month's FA exit trials at Warwick, where matches are arranged to allow players in similar positions to be seen by scouts - and the high road to Glasgow gradually began to open up in front of him.

“Rangers' chief scout went down to watch him which was good because they don't have to go out looking for players like that,” said Ray.

Miller played three games in his preferred central midfield position - and then a letter from Rangers, the first sign of their interest, landed on his doorstep. The youngster was having trials with Southend United, and politely explained the situation before being flown north.

The fairytale continued as he met the players and played in a specially arranged in-house match.

“They won the match 5-1 and Tom was taken off before the end - because they said they'd seen enough and wanted to get him training with the first team,” added his father.

Miller - who will be a guest when Rangers play Fiorentina in the first leg of their Uefa Cup semi-final next week - went back for a medical last Friday and signed pre-contract forms - before returning to play for Norwich's Academy side on Saturday morning, as he fulfils his obligations until the end of the season.

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