The 22-year-old spent time as a youth player with Pittwater RSL, Manly United, and Sydney FC before earning a move to Central Coast Mariners in 2019, initially on a scholarship contract.
Montgomery, who played twice for Scotland under-21s in 2003 and once for the Scotland Future squad in 2005, was serving as assistant manager at the Central Coast Stadium when Miller arrived. The Leeds-born coach worked closely with Miller during his time in the Mariners academy so when he took the reins in July 2021, succeeding Alen Stajcic, he already knew of the full-back’s ability.
“Nick was at Sheffield United as a player and was a legend there as well. When he took the top job at Mariners I knew I was going to be in for a good season because he was with me in the club’s academy and he always believed in me and trusted me,” Miller recalled.
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The defender played 22 times under Montgomery for the Mariners last term – one game more than former Hibs striker Jason Cummings, and a handful of appearances shy of Dundee United goalkeeper Mark Birighitti and Hearts centre-back Kye Rowles – and Montgomery could have found himself following Miller to Scotland had Motherwell been successful in a reported bid to tempt him to swap the A-League for the Premiership.
But Central Coast Mariners owner Richard Peil rebuffed ‘Well’s approach, telling Australian outlet FTBL that he wanted Montgomery to follow the club’s ‘three-year plan’ and eventually coach in England.
“Monty knows we are on a three-year plan and I was never going to let him go. We were pleased by their approach because it shows what Monty and (assistant) Sergio Raimundo are doing here is something special,” Peil said.
“But I was always going to fight tooth and nail to keep him in Australia. I never had any intention of supporting him going to Scotland.
“He’ll coach in the EPL at some point. It’s just a matter of time.
“He’s a young coach, and like he tells all our players, you have to be patient and go through the process.
“I’m sure this will be the first of many approaches for him over the next few years.”
Miller reveals why Motherwell might have been so keen to bring Montgomery to Fir Park: “The second he got the Mariners gig I started playing more games, I was more consistent, and just getting better and better under his influence,” he explained.
“To play under someone with his experience, you look up to him and listen to what he has to say and you just get better and better.”
Miller also revealed the Socceroos legend he looks up to – another Manly United youth graduate.
“Manly United have the Lucas Neill Stadium and he’s obviously an Australian legend,” Miller continued.
“A hard tackler, always gives it 110 per cent. I used to be a centre-back so transitioning from centre-back to right-back, I still looked up to a player like him.
“If I can be half the player he was then I’ll be on the right path. He was a top player in terms of attitude, leadership – he had it all.”