MILLER'S SURPRISE AT FINAL FLING AT WEMBLEY.
KENNY MILLER admits he's been dreaming of the one chance that might come his way at Wembley - conceding he thought his days of cup finals had gone for good.
The Scotland striker is no stranger to the big occasion thanks to a goal-laden career in the SPL on both sides of the Old Firm.
Throw in his promotion-winning experiences with Wolves and it's safe to say the 32-year-old has been there and done it on the big stage with goals in finals at both Hampden Park and the Millennium Stadium.
But he admits he didn't think he'd be running out at Wembley in a cup final after signing for Cardiff City last summer.
Now he's ready to make the most of that chance - and complete an incredible hat-trick along the way.
Miller said: "And I thought my cup finals were behind me when I left the Old Firm.
"I didn't expect us to get to Wembley.
It's a fantastic bonus. "I scored for Rangers in the League Cup final a couple of years ago and for Wolves in the play-off final.
"And scoring the winner in the last minute is what I will dream about before the game.
"It would be great to do the British hat-trick.
"Of course, it will be a tough game. There is no doubt about it.
"We are the underdogs and rightly so. But Birmingham showed last year that on any given day in football anything can happen.
"If we can ride our luck a bit, defend well and then when the chances hopefully come along then we take them."
Chances are, the chance will fall to Miller.
While Rudy Gestede, Joe Mason and Robert Earnshaw have all partnered Miller at one point or another over the campaign, Cardiff have looked best when the experienced frontman has been left to go it alone.
With superb movement and an honest work ethic not normally associated with players who have nothing to prove in the game, Miller has either provided Cardiff with goals or the cutting edge to create in their successful campaign so far.
Above all, though, he is a finisher. And if Liverpool have scouted in the detail their director of football Damien Comolli claimed last week, they don't have to look past the goal he scored to knock out Premier League Blackburn to see that.
The old clich goes that underdogs only get half a chance.
So does Miller feel the responsibility that 32,000 Bluebirds fans at Wembley will be looking to him to bury it? "Not at all," is the simple reply, despite Miller's pounds 800,000 move from Turkish club Bursaspor seeing him described as the one player of true star quality in a team - certainly compared to Cardiff last term - that ultimately lack it.
"One thing I would say about this team is I wouldn't say there are any big stars. It's a decent group.
"The lads are hard-working and want to do well for each other.
"But that's what has helped us this year. No doubt about it."
It certainly will be needed against Liverpool who are, in the eyes of neutrals, better man for man in every position.
But Liverpool do not have Mackay who, says Miller, has been the driving factor behind the Bluebirds' unexpected run to the final and rise in the Championship.
More than that, he is also the man who got Miller enjoying his football again after rescuing him from a tumultuous six months in Turkey. "Malky was a big part of me coming here," sayd Miller, who had a last-minute approach from Rangers to head back to the Ibrox club where he had scored 66 goals in two spells.
"Myself and the family found it tough in Turkey but I'd spoken to Malky and he helped me. I knew him beforehand.
"I'd been in Scotland squads with him. I've played against him on a number of occasions when he was at Norwich and West Ham.
"I knew him and spoke to him away from the game too, so I knew the man he was and speaking to him again only enhanced it.
"He's a straight-shooter and you don't have to be guessing about what he wants from his team.
"He knew what he wanted for this club.
"He's a winner and wants his teams to be successful. I wanted to be part of it.
"I'm sure this cup final is as big as a surprise to him as it is to everyone else, but nonetheless it's here and it's an opportunity for us to go and win a cup.
"It's the way we will treat it." Miller says there will be words from the manager before the game, and words at half-time if things aren't at the levels he expects of his men.
"He was a typical centre-half when he played, a big, aggressive man. He's the same as a manager," added the striker.
THE CARLING CUP FINAL IN NUMBERS 3 Cardiff appearances at Wembley since Liverpool's last visit there in 1996 27 Appearances Kenny Dalglish has made at Wembley as a player and manager 7 Number of times Cardiff's Millennium Stadium staged the League Cup final (2001-07) - Liverpool won twice in 2001 and 2003 and lost to Chelsea in 2005 45 Millions spent on Craig Bellamy during the Wales striker's 10-club career 53 Years since last league meeting (in old second division) between Cardiff and Liverpool - only meeting in between was 2007 Carling Cup tie which the Reds won 2-1 80 Gerrard family members expected at Wembley today to see cousins Steven, top left, and Anthony, bottom left, play on opposite sides 14 Goals scored by Cardiff during Carling Cup run - two more than Liverpool 10 Penalties scored by Cardiff in two spot-kick shoot-outs against Leicester and Crystal Palace 21 Years since Sheffield Wednesday were the last side from outside the top flight to lift the League Cup 11 Years since last non-Premier League club reached League Cup final - Birmingham City in 2001 15 Domestic cups for Liverpool if they win today (eight League Cups and seven FA Cups) - equalling Manchester United's record 1966 Cardiff's previous League Cup best, the semi-finals before losing 10-3 to West Ham on aggregate 6 Red cards final referee Mark Clattenburg has shown in 25 games this season
Kenny Miller, left, celebrates play-off success with Wolves in 2003 Kenny Miller is enjoying his time at Cardiff City and hitting the target regularly
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|Publication:||Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Feb 26, 2012|
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