Miller: “I Just Hit It!”
He may have won the Premier League’s Under-23 Goal of the Season, but Reece Miller didn’t even know he was on the shortlist, and he can be forgiven for that seeing as he scored it on the final day in his first Under-23 league start for the club since joining Watford last summer.
But score it he did, and in some style, as the young forward – a self-styled “old fashioned” number nine – popped the ball up and volleyed it over the Colchester United goalkeeper at Florence Park.
“The ball came to me and the touch wasn’t really that brilliant, so I just improvised,” said Miller. “It all happened so quickly.
“As I was looking up I just saw it go over the keeper’s head into the corner.
“It jumped up at me and I just hit it!”
The award was given based on an audience vote at the Premier League Youth Development Conference, held at Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Molineux Stadium, after Academy staff in attendance from all 92 Premier League and EFL clubs voted for their favourite.
The Premier League Football Development Panel compiled the shortlist after clubs gave their nominations for the best goals and saves of the season.
“I didn’t even know I was up for an award, but I got a message through from one of the coaches to say ‘congratulations’,” said the forward.
“It’s quite a big thing because everyone has seen it, and it makes me feel a bit special really!”
Miller is a first-year scholar, having joined the club at the start of the 2017/18 campaign, and while he has just finished his first year as a Hornet, he’s already setting targets for the next season.
He said: “I’ve started to get into the Under-23s team and I’ve come off the bench a few times, so obviously, my next target is to break through into that team permanently. Then I’ve got to try and get a pro deal for next year – as soon as possible really.
“Hayden [Mullins] has been really comforting. I’m new to Watford, it’s my first year here, and he really helped me a lot. But Paul [Hardyman] and Carl [Martin] have helped me build a lot of confidence too.
“They built me up and made me a lot more confident. I think I’ve proven that now after scoring a lot more goals towards the end of the season.
“It was quite a relief when I scored that goal, it’s relieving when you score a goal in any game, but coming in as a first-year against an Under-23s side it’s quite special really.”
With Ryan Cassidy and Lewis Gordon signing their first professional contracts recently, Miller is determined to be the next on that list, and says he’s a different type of player to most.
“It motivates me even more because if they can do it I don’t see why I can’t.
“I’m quite old fashioned. I like to hold it up and then get in the box and try and score as many goals as I can.”
And, if he can score more goals like the one against Colchester, we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the future.
Congratulations to Ryan Cassidy, who was also a winner on the night, as he took home the Hornets’ Scholar of the Year award.