MARK BURCHILL was still struggling to come to terms and find the right words two days after the news of Liam Miller's fight with cancer broke.

The pair were not only team-mates at Celtic as kids, they were pals. But then, as Burchill said, everyone was Miller's friend.

“I am stunned, completely and utterly stunned," admitted Burchill. "It’s so shocking. If I’m honest, it was like being hit by a train when I heard the news.

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Read more: Neil Cameron: Liam Miller gave Celtic fans some great memories – let’s hope he gets the chance to make a lot more​

“Liam is such a fantastic guy, a genuine person who I thought was an unbelievable football player.

“Many guys now look back on their careers and think maybe they didn’t do as well as they should have because they had so much talent. Liam was perhaps like that.

“You won’t meet anyone who played with Liam who didn’t like him. That’s the kind of character he is. Liam was quiet in the dressing room, a chilled out guy, but a brilliant bloke to have as a team-mate.

“We hit it off first time I met him which was when he came over from Ireland to Celtic on trial. So I’m devastated. What I will say is he’s a strong character and I would be amazed if he doesn’t beat this."

When something like this happens to a friend, it is natural for anyone to look back to the days when the world was at their feet.

"“I have amazing memories of when we were all kids together," Burchill recalled. "It was very difficult for the lads who had come from Ireland or down south because we had a really strong bunch of Scottish players.

“Colin Healy and Liam came over at a similar time. They came from the same village, had gone to the same running club, both were really quiet guys, but the fitness levels they had were off the chart.

Read more: Kieran Tierney - Hopefully if we lift a cup at Hampden next Sunday I can remember it this time

“I actually bumped into Liam at an airport about six months ago and we had a brilliant catch-up.

“The last time Liam and I played together was probably 2001. I saw him a couple of times over the years but when I saw him in that airport it was as if we were still playing with each other.

"Hopefully his family and friends can get him through it."

It has been reported that Miller, who is 36, has pancreatic cancer, which was the disease which took Burchill's father two years ago.

The former Celtic and Scotland striker, now European scout for Bournemouth, made the point that while Miller's career didn't hit the heights his potential promised, the Cork man still enjoyed a fine time in football.

"Liam was similar to me; it was our dream to play for Celtic. We wanted to play in that first team, simple as that, and we achieved it.

"We didn’t see him as much because he moved here, there and everywhere - to Australia and America.

"He had a great career - there are not many guys who have as good a career as him.

Read more: Neil Cameron: Liam Miller gave Celtic fans some great memories – let’s hope he gets the chance to make a lot more​

"He was brilliant at Sunderland and a couple of my Australian mates remember him very fondly from his playing days over there.

"It’s difficult to talk about because you are in that dressing room and you become very, very close to people very quickly - it’s almost like you become a family."

To a much a happier subject and Burchill, a one-time shooting star with Celtic, believes Kieran Tierney won't make the mistakes which perhaps he did.

"I don’t think Kieran needs a lot of advice," said Burchill. "Anyone who can play out of their own position in international football with nobody noticing is a top player.

"What I would say to him is not let outside influences get inside his head and just focus on what he wants to do. From everything I’ve heard about him he is the perfect professional."

Burchill helped draw the Irn-Bru Cup semi-finals at the Armadillo in Glasgow.

The ties, to be played on