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First Team News

Liam Millar Talks Growing Up In Canada, Moving To England & Proving Himself

8 January 2024

First Team News

Liam Millar Talks Growing Up In Canada, Moving To England & Proving Himself

8 January 2024

As a young Canadian growing up in Brampton, Ontario, “soccer” was not the sport of choice. In fact, it wasn’t even high up on the list.

But influenced by his dad Alan, who also moved to England in pursuit of a football career, Liam Millar had a ball at his feet pretty much every minute he wasn’t in school.

He and his dad would spend hours practising in their backyard, on the driveway, or on the local field – where they’d have to pull a net in front of American football goalposts.

Other than his dad, a young Liam didn’t really have anyone to properly share his world of football with, until he met his friend Mike Gomes, who shared his obsession.

They’d hop a fence to get onto the best pitch where they’d play until the street lights came on and it was time to go home. Liam recalls one particular day when the rain was really coming down and he – after hours of trying – perfected a knuckleball technique and knee-slid towards the corner flag, imagining there was a crowd there roaring him on.

Soon enough, there would be people on the sidelines enjoying his thrilling pace and trickery, as a 12-year-old Liam’s career kickstarted almost by accident.

He said: “My dad coached one of the best teams in Canada and they were invited to play in the Keele Cup in Stoke.

“When I was a kid, I just followed my dad everywhere, and if I didn’t go I would just cry all week and be angry, so he took me with him.

“There was a team from New York there who needed an extra player and it happened to be my age group, so my dad told them I was there with him and they put me in.

“I scored 12 goals in four games or something stupid, and I remember playing and Stoke City were on the side cheering ‘Go number eight,’ and it just felt amazing.”

Liam was catching an eye in a tournament he wasn’t even supposed to play in, so much so that a Fulham scout approached coach Alan and his son.

Such was his shyness at the time – a complete contrast to his outgoing persona now – Liam tucked behind his dad as the scout invited the youngster for a trial with the London club.

“I was there for a week originally and I trained unreal again,” added Liam.

“Kevin Betsy was my coach and said I could come back for a six-week trial, but I had to be serious about moving.

“I’m going to be honest, I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave my family, Mike, and my wife was a close friend at the time, so I didn’t want to leave them.

“My dad, knowing I wasn’t making the correct decision, persuaded me to go, and obviously now it was the best decision I’ve ever made because I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

“It wasn’t easy, though. I cried almost every night because I was so sad about leaving my family.”

Moving over with only his dad, Liam soon got a hold of his football, after adjusting to the “English way” and finding his position wide on the left.

Then, at the age of 16, Liverpool came along, and after the realisation that a career in the English game was very likely, his brother and sister soon then moved over from Canada, too.


However, with the Reds, in certain ways, Liam doesn’t feel he quite got the chance he deserved, although there were plenty of opportunities he did get due to his connection with one of the world’s biggest clubs.

The experience of uprooting his life in his earlier years then made the move to Basel easier in 2021, although he needed assurances he’d be a key part of the plans in Switzerland.

Liam said: “My daughter Reina wasn’t even one at the time so I wasn’t going to move my family if I wasn’t going to play, but they told me it was my spot to lose.

“I struggled a bit at first because I was there by myself in the first few months. It wasn’t fair for me to ask Daniela (Liam’s wife) and my daughter to move to a hotel, so I had to find my apartment and get everything ready.

“It was hard because I missed Reina’s first birthday and, my kids are the most important thing to me, so that probably affected me on the pitch.”

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A post shared by Liam Millar (@liammillar11)

As a result, the winger wasn’t called up to the Canada national team for the first time in his career, and he admitted that’s when his mentality changed.

Liam soon kicked further into gear – helped by the eventual arrival of his family – and went on to score ten goals in his first year with Basel.

Albeit there were still difficulties, mainly with German being the spoken language in team meetings and in the local area, which made everyday life difficult for Liam and Daniela.

“I think it was important for me to come back here,” admitted Liam.

“My dad’s here, my brother and sister are here, and it’s just like my second home really.

“Canada’s my first home and always will be, but England is a close second for me.

“Being here makes me feel more at home and more comfortable. That alone makes it easier for me to perform.”

The only person in Liam’s immediate family really who’s not permanently in the UK is his mum Jo-Ann, who has worked as a make-up artist on big-hitter movies such as Suicide Squad, Dune, and Resident Evil.

When she’s not working, she spends plenty of time over here, though, while dad Alan also works in the film industry as an electrician, with Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, and X-Men on his CV.

Liam and Daniela recently added to their family in July 2023 when daughter Valencia was born, while Reina – meaning queen in Spanish, and also inspired by Star Wars character Rey and incidentally Pepe Reina – is now three.

That family stability wasn’t the only reason why Liam wanted a return to the UK, though, as the wideman was keen on testing himself in the second tier, after previously never having the chance to do so.

“As I said, I wanted to come back to England for family reasons,” he explained, “but I also wanted to come back because I felt like I had something to prove here a little bit.


“I never got to play in the Championship and I never got to play in the Premier League, so I wanted to show the English people how good I really am and that was a big thing for me.

“The gaffer has given me the platform to do that, and I’m really enjoying it.

“The lads are also great and they’ve helped me come in and let me hit the ground running. It’s been great so far and I hope that continues.”

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