Former Millwall chairman Theo Paphitis reckons Neil Harris has built a Lions team which reflects his own core football values.
It will be 13 years in May since the Lions reached the FA Cup final – losing 3-0 to Manchester United at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Paphitis was at the helm with Harris then playing up front.
Now the Lions’ all-time record goalscorer is in charge of the League One side and they have knocked out Premier League Bournemouth in the FA Cup third round.
Paphitis said: “Neil’s brilliant. I keep in touch with him. I speak to him regularly. He’s doing a great job there. He’s built his own team, in his own image, around him.
“It’s never easy. Obviously he’s limited in budget, he’s limited in the ability of the players he’s able to attract. But you know what? When he was in the team, it was so much about passion, so much about desire, so much about winning……we used to roll in, roll them over, and roll out. That was our mantra.
“It didn’t matter whether they were a league above us, whether they were paid three times what our players were paid. That really never intimidated us. We’d go away, never mind at home, and our ambition always was that it was never about a draw. It was never about turning up. Neil epitomises that will to win and be the best.”
Paphitis stepped down from his position at the end of the 2004-05 campaign.
And he finds it hard to pick out a fondest memory of his Den reign.
“Every day that goes by I get more and more, because it was an incredible time, and a difficult time,” he said. “Lots of great things happened, lots of difficult things happened. But the good stuff, you know, you just can’t really forget.
“You can’t forget promotions. You can’t forget getting to Wembley. You can’t forget getting to the FA Cup semi-final. You can’t forget actually getting to the final. You can’t forget getting into Europe. You can’t forget travelling with your team to play a European game. You can’t forget going to Monaco, to actually see the draw for the European games.
“These are all dreams and ambitions, that as a kid you couldn’t imagine you’d be part of. So, yeah, there’s a few memories there.
“A cup will always hold the magic. I don’t think that could ever be taken away. I can remember the FA Cup when I was a kid. You know I used to start the day in front of the TV, make sure you had loads of coke, crisps and loads of other unhealthy foods – you’d spend your whole day there. And in the morning the teams would leave their hotels, and they used to have a helicopter following the team bus. It was the build-up. You never dreamt for one minute you’d ever be part of it, or play a part of it. That magic has always been there for me.”
Theo Paphitis is supporting Prostate Cancer UK and their work in the football community. He’s calling on Millwall fans to search prostatecanceruk.org/football and find out how they can help stop prostate cancer being a killer.