Greg Mills: Derby County, Robbie Savage and Non League football

Credit: The Non League Paper

You signed for Bromsgrove Sporting in 2019. How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and how would you describe a club such as Bromsgrove Sporting?

I am really enjoying my time at Bromsgrove Sporting so far. I joined a club that had won back to back promotions so that club was used to winning. When I first joined the club they were 17th in the league and we have made great progress. Bromsgrove Sporting is a club that has everything to go to the level above it has the fan base, , the infrastructure, good people behind the scenes and there is a lot of potential at the club and everything is in place to go and kick on in future.

You came through the youth setup and went on to make first team appearances for Derby County. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

Credit: JThomas / Pride Park Football Stadium, Derby / CC BY-SA 2.0

Yes, My time at Derby County was brilliant, it was a strange in that you do not realize what you have got until it is gone and looking back I have so many fond memories of my time there and what I did achieve at the club.

Obviously playing in the Championship for the first team is something that many academy players dream of and Derby County are still a big Championship club and at the time I was playing for them they were one of the biggest clubs in the Championship at the time.

Playing alongside people like Robbie Savage and Roy Carroll and players that I had watched growing up and growing up in Leicester I remember watching Robbie Savage lift the League Cup in 1997 so it was a bit surreal really and I think my highlight was playing and being around the first team even though I only went on to make two appearances I went on pre season tours with them, I was also on the bench quite often and I was training with the first team every day. It was a great experience.

Credit: Law_Kevan

You played one season for Tamworth FC. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any special memories or highlights?

Yes, I left Tamworth FC in the February of that season and before that I had done really well at Corby Town and I had a lot of interest from clubs higher up the football pyramid and Tamworth was close to the location where I was living and they are also a big Non League club around the area, they also have a good fan base and they had just changed to a 3G pitch as well so that gave me a good incentive to play on a good surface.

I played under Andy Morrell who had a good career and I got on and worked really well with him. I actually really enjoyed my time at Tamworth FC and I ended up leaving to sign for Nuneaton Borough F.C and looking back I really wished I would have stuck it out at Tamworth because I really did enjoy it and we had a good set of lads who were also going strong in the league. It was just due to my home life I had just had a new born son and Nuneaton Borough F.C offered me a deal that suited me and my family and at the time it was more about thinking about my family rather than the deal that was best for me. I looked at what worked best for my family.

Credit: Jonesy702

You have accrued good experience in your career so far at all levels, could you say who are among the best players that you have played alongside so far in your career?

Credit: Memorino

Yes, I played with Kris Commons at Derby County and he ended up going on to have a good career and playing for Celtic FC and he was a brilliant player, you could not tackle him to be quite honest and I think maybe if he had a little bit more pace I think he would have been playing in the Premier League but as a footballer he was excellent.

I also played alongside good players at Derby County when I was growing up the likes of Robbie Savage who is a name that people know, Roy Carroll , Jordan Stewart who had a good career in the Premier League. Laurent Robert and Kenny Miller too and as I dropped down I played with some great players that I believe could play in the Football League Sean Newton who is currently at York City and we played together at AFC Telford United and even when I was at Stourbridge F.C. people like Luke Bamber and Jordan Brown where if maybe things had turned out different for them they would have been playing in the Football League.

I also played with Jeff Hendrick in the Derby County youth team who is now at Burnley FC and he was a very good player and he has gone on to make over 150 appearances in the Premier League. I played with some great players at Non League level who could also play higher in my opinion.

Credit: Duque011999

I can imagine in your position as a winger that you have come up against many difficult opponents so far in your career, could you say which opponents stand out for you in terms of talent and ability?

Yes , There are a couple of players I remember when I was growing up and playing in my Derby County youth team days and playing regularly. There has been times where I have played against an opponent and said wow! who is that? and one of them was Paul Pogba I remember him scoring a goal that ended up on Soccer AM.

Credit: Станислав Ведмидь / Football.ua

I was not playing in that youth team game I was traveling with the first team that day but I remember watching it and I remember getting the team sheet off the Kitman at the time and his name was Paul Pogba and I never thought anything of it until a couple of years later he was in the paper going to Juventus and I thought wow that is him!

In terms of direct opponents I remember playing in the Youth Cup against Southampton FC and at the time I was training with the first team and I was also a second year scholar so I was the oldest age that you could play in the Youth Cup and I was meant to be the first one progressing through the academy and before the game in the changing room the manager said ”Millsy you are playing against a 15 year old today and you should not have any problems” I played against him and I could not get anywhere near him, one of the best players I have ever played against and I always remember the name and his name was Luke Shaw and a year later he is in the Southampton FC youth team playing week in and week out.

Credit: Jon Candy

I remember playing against Kieran Trippier when he was at Manchester City and I remember his delivery being fantastic, if you stood off him he would cross the ball round you, if you got tight to him he would dribble round you and I remember was the best crosser I had ever seen and he has gone on to have an unbelievable career. Those are the three players where I remember thinking wow they are just different class!

Credit: Joncandy

Finally Greg, could you say who are the coaches and managers who have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional football?

There is a youth team coach who I had a Derby County who I always remember and his name was Will Royal, I do not remember what he went on to do but he was a massive influence on my career.

I went from being 12 years old and being not very well known in the academy I was just a number of many to probably be the year I finished with him I was the best in my year,doing well and starting games in the year above and even sometimes two years above and I would say that was because of him and his coaching. When I got to the Derby County youth team we had the ex Wigan Athletic Striker David Lowe and he was brilliant with me we did so much one to one work and he would take his time out and do the extra’s with me because I just wanted to learn and with him being a striker and me being a winger he would tell me ” I want you to shoot here , I want you to cross here and I need you to do this ” and it was so interesting to see what it takes to be a Premier League player and to playing in the top division and have a good career in the game and how you have to apply yourself.

Nigel Clough was very different to them two but Nigel made my realize the real world of football as in he was tough on me , there were times where I questioned does he like me or does he not ? but I think looking back as I have got older the way he was with me, it was tough but in football you have to be tough you can’t get wrapped up in a bubble which probably through the academy I was so that was a real eye opener and that turned me into a man in a football sense. As a right footed player I always used to play on the right wing but I went on loan to AFC Telford United and Andy Sinton ( Ex England and QPR winger ) was there and he said to me ” Why don’t you try and play on the left ? ” and ever since then I have played on the left and I have scored a lot of goals and Andy Sinton had a big influence on my career because I had never played on the left before I met him.

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