Last night, Neil Harris became the highest goalscorer in Millwall’s history by scoring his 112th goal for the club. His 1st came on 19th September 1998 against Northampton Town. His 112th came on the 13th January 2009 against Crewe Alexandra. Without any irony, Neil Harris is a true football legend.
During his two spells at Millwall, Haris has experienced many ups and downs. In his first season, he scored an amazing 25 goals having joined the club from non-league Cambridge City, playing part time whilst holding down a full time job in a Japanese insurance company.
In his second season, he won the ‘Golden Boot’ as League One’s top goalscorer with 28 goals helping Millwall win the League at the same time.
In the same year, Harris was also diagnosed with testicular cancer. He fought against it having undergone intense treatment and surgery to return to the first team little more than a year later. In the process, he set up the Neil Harris Everyman Appeal.
With Dennis Wise as Millwall’s new manager, Harris was deemed not good enough for first team football. Soon after playing in Millwall’s historic FA Cup appearance, Harris left Millwall for difficult spells at Cardiff, Nottingham Forest and Gillingham.
Then on 8th January 2007, Harris returned to his beloved Millwall. Twelve days later, Harris made club history by scoring in the 16th minute of the 4-0 win over Rotherham to become Millwall’s top league goal scorer with 94 goals surpassing the previous club record of 93 goals he had jointly held with Teddy Sheringham.
Harris continued scoring goals for Millwall before being told at the end of last season by manager Kenny Jackett that he no longer figured in his plans for the club.
Harris’s reaction to the news that he was once again to be bombed out at the club he loves tells you all you need to know about the man. Having been told this, Harris trained harder than ever until he got his chance again, scoring a crucial goal in the win over Carlisle on 26th April. Shortly afterwards he was offered a new deal having changed Jackett’s mind.
Harris is a player who is loved by everyone connected to Millwall, and that love is clearly reciprocated. On returning to the club in 2007, he told the South London Press:
“There is something special about this club, it brings out the best in me as a player and a person. It feels like home, it always has done.”
Harris made Millwall history last night and no-one could deny him that glory. A genuine legend in every sense of the word.