Dover Athletic striker Ricky Miller has revealed that failing to make the National League play-offs will make his remarkable season feel “like it was all for nothing”.
Miller was named the National League Player of the Year ahead of the draw with visiting Macclesfield Town on Tuesday.
But the striker, who has 37 league goals to his name ahead of Saturday’s game at Barrow AFC, admitted it was a night of mixed emotions for him.
Miller, who was presented with award by Dover chairman Jim Parmenter said: “It’s amazing to receive this accolade, but it would have been even more enjoyable had we been in the play-off places as we should be.
“Yes, I scored a lot of goals, but that is what I am paid for and not making the play-offs will make it feel like it was all for nothing.”
Despite his obvious disappointment, there have still been plenty of highlights for Miller this season and he revealed his top two.
“The winner at home to Forest Green live on BT Sport was my favourite goal – I’m sure you could tell from my celebration!
“The match against Braintree at Crabble was also really special as I had been to my grandads funeral the day before, so to score four really meant a lot to me.”
Miller’s success this campaign is a stark contrast to the previous one, with a trial of racial abuse and assault hanging over his head when he signed for Dover permanently in June 2015.
He said: “I was hung out to dry by Luton and I lost my home and relationship – I was ready to quit football.”
Justice prevailed six months later as a not guilty verdict was delivered and all charges dropped.
Miller said: “I’m so grateful to the gaffer, Jake, Jim and my team-mates for showing faith in me.
“I was working hard before the trial, but my head was all over the place.
“When I managed to clear my name, my head cleared and my form improved. I was able to score a few goals in the second half of that season.
“But I consider this to be my first proper season where I have been able to concentrate on football and performances.”
Having hit ‘rock bottom’, Miller’s advice for anyone who finds themselves in an similar position is simple.
“Just do it for your loved ones if you can’t do it for yourself. Do it for the people around you. Work hard, keep your head down and remember the sun always rises.”
So what now for the league’s top-scorer?
He said: “I am not 21 anymore, but I still have my own ambitions.
“This was the season to spearhead my career and I want to play as high as I can and have at least five good years at the top.
“Yes, it is a nice feeling to have a lot of other clubs and managers saying nice things about me, but they weren’t interested when I had nothing.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Dover for letting me rebuild my career and I hope I have repaid all the faith to the club and to the fans over the last two years.”
Source: Jason Burns (www.doverathletic.com)
Image: Reuters Media