890 Danny Mills

Biography

Experienced but combustible full back Danny Mills joined Hull City in September 2006 on loan from Manchester City, a signing designed to aid new manager Phil Parkinson’s drive up the Championship table. Mills spent two months in the Tigers back line and was an effective performer, but results did not improve and he left the club in November 2006 – three weeks later he was followed out of the exit door by Parkinson.

Daniel John “Danny” Mills was born in Norwich and came through the junior ranks at his local club, League Division 1 side Norwich City, signing his first professional contract in November 1994. He made his first team debut for the Canaries in August 1995 against Luton Town and held down the right back berth for a month until more experienced colleagues returned to fitness. He scored his first senior goal in October 1995 during a League Cup tie against Torquay United but for the rest of the season he was deployed on the substitutes’ bench. He won back a regular first team shirt at the start of the 1996/97 season but was used sparingly by manager Mike Walker during the 1997/98 season. He left Norwich in March 1998 having scored once in 73 senior appearances.

In March 1998 a £250,000 fee was sufficient to lure Mills to League Division 1 rivals Charlton Athletic, who were vying for promotion to the Premier League. The Addicks reached the play-offs and qualified for the Wembley final despite Mills being red carded in the first leg of the semi-final against Ipswich Town – returning for the final against Sunderland, Charlton prevailed after a penalty shoot-out and Danny was a Premier League footballer. He missed only two League games during the 1998/99 season as Charlton were relegated back to the second tier – Mills ended his first spell at The Valley in June 1999 having scored three goals in 51 appearances.

In June 1999 Mills signed for Premier League title contenders Leeds United in return for a £4.1 million fee – good business for Charlton who bought him for a fraction of that fee 15 months earlier. Danny was a first team starter for the first three months of the 1999/00 season only to drift out of the picture from mid-October, but not before he made his debut in European competition against Partizan Belgrade. He became more established in the 2000/01 season and was used most regularly in Leeds’ Champions League campaign that encompassed eighteen matches and culminated in semi-final defeat to Spanish side Valencia. He remained a key part of the Leeds first team for a further two seasons as the club vied for League and Cup success before falling victim to financial meltdown. Danny spent the 2003/04 season on loan at Premier League rivals Middlesbrough, making 37 appearances, and in February 2004 he earned a League Cup winners medal as Boro defeated Bolton Wanderers. By the end of the 2003/04 season Leeds United had been relegated from the Premier League and were in fiscal freefall, which led to extensive off-loading of their most costly players – Mills left Elland Road in July 2004 having scored four goals in 140 senior appearances for the club.

In July 2004 Mills joined Premier League side Manchester City on a free transfer, although Leeds retained responsibility for paying part of his wages for several seasons. Danny was a key part of the first team picture in the 2004/05 season but drifted out of regular contention after then. His loan spell with the Tigers in September 2006 came shortly after Mills had made the last of his 54 appearances for the Citizens, during which he scored one goal.

Mills was still a Manchester City player during the 2007/08 season but spent the first half on loan at former club Charlton Athletic, once again a Championship side. His time at Charlton ended with a League match against Hull City in December 2007 – Mills had a reputation for a red card, being banished seven times in his senior career, and there was clearly a drop or two of bad blood that remained following his loan spell at the Tigers a year earlier. During the match his former Leeds team-mate Nicky Barmby and City captain Ian Ashbee took it in turns to systematically wind Mills up with tugs, kicks and well-chosen words, leading to the inevitable retaliation and 72nd minute dismissal – it was a joy that chilly afternoon to see two experienced artisans go about their work.

Danny joined Premier League strugglers Derby County on a half-season loan in January 2008, but managed only 3 appearances before injury ended his season early. He stayed on Manchester City’s books for a further year but made no more senior appearances, leaving the club and hanging up his boots in August 2009.

Mills then commenced a lengthy second career as match commentary pundit on BBC Radio Five Live, working regularly with commentator Alan Green. He also undertook extensive charity work for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus causes, his son having died of the condition in 2002. He entered TV cookery contest Celebrity Masterchef in 2012 and lost in the final. His son Stanley Mills was also a footballer, signing his first professional contract at Premier League side Everton in July 2021.

On the international stage Mills made two appearances for the England Under-18 side during the 1994/95 season then graduated to the Under-21s three years later, making his debut in September 1998 against Sweden. He netted his first Under-21 goal in March 1999 against Hungary, adding further goals against Poland in September 1999 and Turkey in May 2000. The last of his 14 Under-21 appearance came in June 2000 against Slovakia. Mills was called up to the England senior squad for the first time in June 1999 but waited until May 2001 for his full international debut against Mexico. He was England’s regular right back for two seasons and played five times for his country in the 2002 World Cup Finals held in Japan and South Korea. Danny stayed on the international scene for another year, winning the last of his 19 England senior caps in February 2004 against Portugal.

Details

Nationality: England
Date/Place of Birth: 18 May 1977, Norwich
Hull City First Game: 15 September 2006, Sheffield Wednesday H (Championship), 29 years, 120 days old
Hull City Final Game: 11 November 2006, Wolverhampton Wanderers H (Championship), 29 years, 177 days old

Clubs

Norwich City (1993-1998), Charlton Athletic (1998-1999), Leeds United (1999-2004), Middlesbrough (2003-2004, loan), Manchester City (2004-2009), Hull City (2006, loan), Charlton Athletic (2007, loan), Derby County (2008, loan)

Hull City Record

Career: 9 apps, 0 goals

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