When Ishmael Miller ran into David James in December 2008 not only did his own season come to an end but, if could be argued, so did West Bromwich Albion’s survival bid.
We weren’t to know it at the time but Albion’s biggest failing was to be a lack of firepower.
And while Miller’s presence may not have ultimately been enough to keep the Baggies’ up – truth is we will never know – but there’s little doubt that the striker was evolving into what is commonly known as a ‘Premier League’ striker.
It took Miller a while. His first few games suggested the ability was there.
That raw talent finally manifested itself during the game at Newcastle when Albion lost but Miller finally scored at that level.
He was to score twice more before that fateful collision with James, which left him nursing a cruciate rupture.
Not surprisingly, Miller feels that he is missing out with Albion at Championship level.
He is desperate for a return to the Premier League, if only to continue where he left off more than 15 months ago.
The 23-year-old feels that his evolution from Championship to Premier League striker was almost complete.
“I felt I was there,” he said.
“I felt like every time I went into a game I was creating chances and getting chances.
“In every game I played I think I had a chance and for me as a striker that’s the main thing.
“Sometimes you go into games and you are thinking ‘where is my chance going to come from’.
“You might go three or four games without a chance and that’s when you need to be worried.
“If you get chances and miss them you are still going to be disappointed but at least you are getting the chance and you go into the next game knowing you’re going to get one.
“Then you just have to get your head right and calm yourself down and just take the chance.
“Every single game last season I had a chance and I think that’s how every single striker thinks.
“If I’m getting chances that’s all I can ask for and it’s down to my ability as a striker to take them.
“But looking back it is frustrating at the time of my injury happening. It couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“I just thought at that moment I was prime physical condition.
“But I’m getting back to those levels.
“In the last six games I think I might have scored three so I was full of happiness and in that zone where you can carry on.
“It didn’t work out last time but hopefully next time it can.”
Miller’s response during his injury was to study the best. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he threw himself into a plan of study – watching DVDs and film of Premier League strikers.
His intention was to pick up the good bits and implement them once he was fit.
One of his memories of last season was the victory at Middlesbrough when he came off the bench to help Tony Mowbray’s men to a rare away victory.
Jonas Olsson scored but Miller missed a succession of chances. He feels he learnt from those experiences.
“I had a few chances and missed those chances but you just have to block them out of your head,” he continued.
“If you keep them in your head, that’s when you start to put pressure on yourself.
“If you look at the best strikers in the world, they miss one and then just clean it straight out of their head.
“I remember watching Wayne Rooney this season against Manchester City and he had a chance that he would score nine times out of 10 but he missed it.
“Then he scored the winner in the last minute. You just need to try to block those out and just keep going and try to take the next one,” Miller said.
Miller’s rehabilitation from injury did not go to plan. His first return from a cruciate was aborted when his knee rejected donated tissue.
Instead of passing Go, he found himself back under the knife and spending more time on the treatment table.
It was as if the previous six months had not happened.
He finally returned in January and, in recent games, has shown signs of finally reproducing his best form.
A short-term groin injury briefly held him back, but Miller feels he is getting back to where he wants to be.
“At this moment I am just trying to get back the fitness to be a threat constantly and just try to play games and get minutes on the pitch.
“I think maybe the goal I took at Swansea was a case of getting more time in the box than you actually think.
“Now I just steady myself on those things and I am composed so hopefully I can take that composure that great strikers have and try to put elements into my game.
“I’m fitter but nowhere near 100 per cent but I’m trying to get back slowly and surely. Hopefully I’ll be right towards end of this season.
“I’m probably about 85 per cent – it’s just that sharpness that’s not there although it’s coming back.
“It helps that I started scoring again. I’m still capable of scoring so it was good to get tnat out of the way. Just want to get minutes on the pitch.
“We’re in a great position and, to be fair, we could have kicked on earlier this season. We’ve done it at the crucual time.
“We’re running out of games, with seven games left, three at home. It’s in our hands now and just for us to lose.”