TOMMY Miller couldn’t have wished for a better game to make his 600th career appearance – the day Hartlepool United secured their Football League status.
And manager Ronnie Moore has heaped praise on the veteran Pools midfielder, describing it as a “great achievement” after his service to the club over two separate spells.
Miller made his long-awaited comeback from calf injury – which had kept him out for six months – in the 2-1 win over Exeter City at Victoria Park.
The 36-year-old came on as a substitute to help shore up the Pools midfield and ensure they achieved the Great Escape in front of their own fans.
Moore admitted he wasn’t even aware of the importance of the appearance to Miller, but he wanted to reward him following his hard work after coming back from injury.
Miller, a former Sunderland, Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Swindon Town midfielder, has been working his way back to fitness after injuring his calf way back in October.
“It is a great achievement for Tommy and brilliant for him,” Moore told SportMail.
“I didn’t actually know that he was one appearance off his 600th!
“I put him on the bench because he has worked really hard in training after being injured and it was nice to get him out on the pitch against Exeter.
“It’s great to reach such a landmark and I am really pleased for him, because he’s given the club a lot of good years service.”
It is a great achievement for Tommy and brilliant for him.Ronnie Moore
Miller, a product of the youth system at Pools, made his first team debut at Chester back in October 1997.
In his first spell he bagged 35 goals in 135 games to earn himself a big-money move up the leagues, moving to Ipswich in 2001 for a club record fee of £750,000 after helping Pools to the promotion play-offs two years in a row, in 2000 and 2001, thanks to some vital goals from midfield.
Shotton-born Miller, who has also played for Sunderland in the Premier League plus Preston North End and Huddersfield, was released by Bury last summer and former manager Colin Cooper was quick to add his experience to the Pools squad.
From his 600 appearances, he has started 520 matches, scoring a total of 109 goals.