FA Trophy winner Ian Miller believes his presence out on the pitch can help get the best out of an emerging golden generation at AFC Sudbury.
The 34-year-old former Ipswich Town, Darlington, Grimsby and Cambridge United defender put pen to paper on a deal with the Yellows at the end of last week after finding himself without a club when high-flying Cambridge City told him they were tightening their budget.
With an FA Trophy winners medal from Cambridge United, as well as leading the U’s back into the Football League as their captain, and a wealth of professional experience, Miller was not short of offers for his services in the region’s non-league scene.
But having joined AFC Sudbury Academy as a coach earlier this season, as well as having a chance to link up with manager Mark Morsley again following two seasons at Needham Market, it was seen by both parties as a great chance to add another dimension to him having a hand in developing the wealth of young talent at the club.
“I spoke to many clubs in the region and was lucky enough to get good offers from those clubs,” he said.
“But the thing that swayed me was sitting down with Danny (Laws, head of academy) and the directors at AFC Sudbury and discussing how I could add on to my coaching role in a playing capacity.
“I coach a large percentage of the lads in the academy day in, day out and it is a great way to be able to pass on my experience in a different way and promote the pathway this club offers these guys.”
On a personal level Miller, who made his debut in the 2-1 home defeat to Haringey Borough on Saturday, still feels he has plenty to offer Morsley as an experienced head in an otherwise youthful back four.
And although he has initially signed a deal just to the end of the season in the twilight of his playing days, he has revealed he has no plans to hang up his boots anytime soon.
“I am 34 and a lot of people class that as a veteran of the game in the latter stages of a career, but I still feel I have a lot to give and I know I will be a long time retired,” he said.
“It was nice to cross the white line again on Saturday but unfortunately the result was not what we wanted.
“Hopefully the lads can learn from that as Haringey were able to out-muscle us, and you need to be able to have a different armoury to combat that.”
With Tuesday’s rescheduled match at Maldon & Tiptree falling victim to a frozen pitch, 15th placed AFC, now winless in four, will look to get back on track at the side directly below them in the table, Witham Town, on Saturday (3pm), before hosting current 12th placed side Hertford Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Meanwhile, versatile defender Alfie Carroll has been allowed to leave to re-join Haverhill Rovers.