VANCOUVER, BC - Just over a year ago, Kenny Miller turned down other opportunities to become Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s fourth Designated Player signing in the club’s Major League Soccer history.
They were his first choice then, and not much has changed.
Despite recent offers from clubs in England and Scotland, the Scottish international signed a six-month contract extension with Whitecaps FC on Wednesday, putting the rumours of a mid-season transfer to rest.
Under FIFA rules, players in the final six months of their contract are at liberty to negotiate and potentially pre-sign with another team.
To the delight of Whitecaps FC and their supporters, that was the last thing on Miller’s mind.
“This takes that out of the equation and allows me to concentrate on what I should be concentrating on, which I was, which is making sure we get into the playoffs and have a successful end to the season,” Miller told reporters at the club’s downtown office. “The family are happy here and we’re just delighted that it’s all been sorted out now.”
The Scotsman’s new contract, which ends in June 2014, guarantees that Miller will play out the remainder of the season with the ‘Caps. At that point, both he and the team can explore their options.
“The end of the season is a far better time to evaluate all things, whether it be for players personally to evaluate their position at a club or whether it be for the management and the coaches to evaluate their squad,” Miller said.
The 33-year-old striker has been key to the Whitecaps’ success this season. His four game-winning-goals are second best in MLS and the ‘Caps have posted an impressive 8W-2L-1D record with Miller in the starting lineup.
He’s also helped bring along the club’s younger players, like MLS leading goalscorer Camilo and midfielder Russell Teibert, who are both enjoying their best seasons yet.
Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie speaks to reporters
“He’s just got a little edge to him, which I think is rubbing off on our team and I think that is a really important factor for us to be successful,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “We could have a lost a really valuable part of our team and we didn’t want to do that.”
For his part, Rennie isn’t surprised that Miller has been drawing interest from other teams. The savvy forward has won the Scottish Premier League, the Scottish FA Cup and Scottish League Cup with Rangers FC and Celtic FC. He’s also just a few years removed from a 26-goal year, which was tied for sixth best in all of Europe.
“Everybody knows how good a player he is,” said Rennie. “Players like that are always going to attract interest. We want players that other teams would like to have and he’s one of those. He’s had a great career already and I think he’s still got a lot of life in him yet.”