By Richard Cawley
Neil Harris has paid tribute to outgoing Millwall captain Tony Craig – and wants him back when he decides to hang up his boots.
The 32-year-old had his contract terminated by mutual consent last Wednesday and signed for Bristol Rovers as a free agent the following day.
Craig made 321 appearances for the Lions but had struggled for game time in the Championship.
When asked if he could see him coming back in a coaching role, Millwall boss Harris said: “One hundred per cent. He’s one that needs to come back and work for the club. Tony is doing his coaching badges and I’d put him in a similar mould to myself, David Livermore, Andy Frampton and Paul Robinson.
“He is not quick but Tony is an athlete – he is a strong runner. In pre-season and during the season he is right up there in the running drills. He can play another two or three years – maybe longer.
“I really would have liked Tony to stay with us at least until the end of the season, if not longer, because of his leadership and quality on the pitch as well, let’s not underestimate that. Tony has been very patient this year – but also frustrated with his lack of first-team
“He is a fantastic professional and wants to play. He didn’t want to sit and wait any longer. He felt he’d waited five months for a chance to play but that’s not come due to James Meredith’s excellent form.
“Tony is Tony. He wanted to go and play football – I’ve got nothing but praise for that. He has gone with my blessing and support.
“People don’t always see how he has led the troops in the last couple of years. He has fought back from criticism and shouldered blame from the fanbase for our play-off defeat – when nothing was his fault whatsoever.
“To come back like that afterwards shows what character he has got – as a player and as a man. He’s going to be a good coach and possibly a good manager one day.”