Joe Jordan says move to Milan made his career, as Kenny Miller eyes up Italian offer

IT will place Kenny Miller in exhalted company if, as expected, he leaves Rangers for Fiorentina. The move would gain the 31-year-old entry to an exclusive club whose membership thus far has been restricted to true heavyweight hall-of-famers Denis Law, Joe Jordan and Graeme Souness. Until now this trio have proved the only Scottish internationalists to have performed in Serie A.

Jordan is not the type to tell any player what is best for him. The Tottenham Hotspur first-team coach will leave it to Miller to decide whether to accept the reputed 40,000-a-week contract offer he has from the Florence club ahead of a lucrative deal tabled by Birmingham City. All the former AC Milan and Hellas Verona striker would venture is that he still treasures the two seasons he was the shark attacking for the Rossoneri from 1981 and the brief stint that followed with his second Italian club, and believes he derives value from them to this day.

"These opportunities haven't come along that much for Scottish players, or at least haven't been taken up by them too often because the rewards have been available in England, and I think that's a bit of a shame," says the 59-year-old. "Kenny Miller is very fortunate to have fantastic options in Italy and England and will weigh them up and he alone will know what is best for him and his family. All I know is that I am so glad I had the experience of playing in Italy. I would look back with regret if I hadn't done so. I always wanted to play abroad and the move to Milan was the best of my career."

When you consider the bustling Jordan had a career that took him from Morton to then English powerhouse club Leeds United in 1971, and was enticed from there to Manchester United for a 350,000 fee in 1978, the fact he places his acquisition by Milan above all others is a measure of what it meant to him to be "educated" in a different way of playing the game, and different way of life. He considers the privilege to have played a part in his subsequently long coaching career. "The opportunity to see the way players and teams trained and were prepared in a very different fashion to how it was in Britain opened my eyes," says the former Hearts manager and Celtic assistant who is now a crucial consigliere for Harry Redknapp. "But that wasn't restricted to the professional. Culturally, seeing another angle on how people went about their daily business had a lasting impact on me. It was a challenge to adapt but that went pretty easy and my days in Italy were very satisfying and very instructive."

Jordan scored 12 times in 51 games for Milan, a highly commendable return in an era when cattenachio still held a strong grip on the Italian game.

It doesn't now and Jordan seems to weary at the very suggestion Miller would be stepping into an environment that would seriously test his erratic chance coversion rate.

Fiorentina, where former Celtic goalkeeper and Miller team-mate Artur Boruc now resides, are 12th in Serie A and only five points of the relegation places. "The way Italian teams approach the game changed dramatically quite some time ago from when I played in the 1980s," says Jordan who says it is obviously his "job" to know the Italian scene as well now as when he played because AC Milan lie in wait for Spurs in the Champions League after the London club finished above their city rivals Inter in the group stages. "As with every league, some of the weaker teams will play defensively but generally the football now is of an attacking variety and there is a belief from the majority of the teams that they can go and win games. We played Inter in the Champions League this season and they played with three strikers so any 'one-up' loan striker stuff isn't any more or less true of Italy than England or Scotland.

"And if Kenny Miller was to join Fiorentina he would be going to a great club, a big club in a magnificent city. It may be some time since they had real success in Europe (they reached the European Cup final in 1990] but they made a serious enough impact last season for their manager Cesare Prandelli to become the Italy manager. What remains constant across all eras of Italian football is the professionalism, the importance it holds in Italy and the passion it generates from supporters. That is why Serie A remains one of the top leagues in the world."

If there was ever a time that Miller might be able to cope with the demands it is now. The forward has suddenly added a lethal scoring touch to his industry in bagging 43 goals for the Ibrox club over the past 18 months. Jordan adds: "If he wasn't in the scoring form of his career then he wouldn't be in the position of being able to choose between Serie A and the English Premier League. These doors have opened for him because he has made them do so with how he has played. He has worked hard and used his experience to develop his game."

It is unusual for a player to be given such a seemingly football-life enhancing - and certainly bank balance-enhancing - opportunity at as advanced a stage in their career as has now come the way of Miller. The fact he is in his 32nd year won't necessarily make an assimilation any easier however, Jordan believes.

"It wouldn't matter if you are going from Glasgow to Florence or vice versa, you do need time to adapt to a different country and different club," he says. "Some players fall into it quicker than others and you just can't tell how any individual will fare."

In international terms, Miller has fared remarkably similar to Jordan, as far as bald statistics go anyway. Miller has scored 12 times for his country in the course of 51 caps.Jordan scored one goal fewer from one more outing, though he stands as the only man to score for Scotland in three World Cups and he believes the national team would benefit from having its first-choice striker play in Serie A. "If you play in one of the top leagues in the world," Jordan says, "it is going to keep you sharp."


Denis Law

Law joined Torino from Manchester City in 1961 for a record fee of 110,000. He scored 10 goals in 27 games but returned to Britain after a year to join Man United.

Joe Baker

English only by an accident of birth, the Hibs centre forward joined Torino at the same time as law, for a fee of 75,000. A car crash did not help him to settle in Italy, and like Law, he was back in Britain a year later.

Joe Jordan

The Manchester United and Scotland striker signed for AC Milan in 1981. After two seasons, he had a short spell with Hellas Verona, then joined Southampton.

Graeme Souness

Joined Sampdoria from Liverpool in 1984 for a fee of 650,000. Spent two years in Italy, where he was a Coppa Italia winner, before becoming Rangers manager.