Steve Morison was probably Kenny Jackett’s most astute Millwall purchase.
He signed for the Lions for just £130,000 on July 1, 2009 – and would be sold to Norwich for almost £3million, just two years later.
When asked what made the players realise they had taken a step up, captain Paul Robinson said he knew they would do well after the arrival of the Stevenage striker.
“It just clicked on when Kenny Jackett signed him,” said Robbo. “It upped our level.”
But it was no easy ride at the start.
Morrison hit the net just twice in his first 18 games, even if everyone knew how hard he was working hard behind the scenes.
“It was a lot to take on,” said the 36-year-old this week. “I was doing a lot of new stuff for my body. Sometimes you need time to take it all in and then it clicks.”
He did score in added time for a 3-2 victory against MK Dons – and then went on a run of 21 goals in just 25 matches – a phenomenal scoring rate in anybody’s book.
“We were 2-0 up and then Jermaine Easter came on and got two – but then I scored in the last minute.
“That came off the back of a home defeat by Wycombe where Kenny Jackett hauled me into his office and ordered me never again to pick up a centre half to ask if he was OK.
“From that point on I didn’t stop going up and up and up for the next three or four years.
“There was goal after goal after goal.
“I loved playing in the Charlton games because I scored all the time. And in the 4-4 draw played at The Valley in December of that season I got an own goal for them, too.”
A goal he remembers best is the strike in the play-off semi-final 2-0 victory over Huddersfield in 2010, when a head bandaged Morison smashed home keeper Alan Smithies’ fumble of Danny Schofield’s cross.
The raucous, euphoric Den erupted. It was the same side he had scored his first Millwall goal against, back on September 19, 2009.
But a 2-0 victory that memorable ear-splitting semi-final night took the Lions to Wembley – where Morison had himself scored twice for Stevenage.
“Winning the play-off final at Wembley in 2010 against Swindon was incredible,” he said. “That level was all new to me, but I was just going about my business and not thinking too much about what I had done.
“I didn’t have a goals target the next season in the Championship.
“I remember saying to Richard Shaw ‘I don’t know if I’m ready for this level – it’s too much for me.’ But he replied ‘You’re all right – it will be fine.’ And it was.”
He hit 17 goals – including some astounding ones which are part of a YouTube tribute posted last June.
“Thank you Steve Morison – end of an era” should be compulsory viewing for anyone who does not think he is a legend – as well as a phenomenal finisher. He particularly enjoyed beating Kasper Schmeichel in the 3-2 Den victory over Leeds in April 2011.
“We were comfortable in that game – they only got their second in added time,” he said. “It was a great time to be at the club. That season’s form earned him a multi-million pound move to the Premier League with Norwich.
“I must have been doing OK,” he joked.
Morrison was not often one to crow about his achievements, or to show his enthusiasm.
“Maybe I was a bit moody sometimes,” he admitted. “If people want to moan that’s fine, but none of them minded when I was putting the ball in the back of the net.”
He played 59 games for Norwich in the Premier League and scored 11 goals in his first season to help them to a mid-table finish.
“It was unbelievable to be going on TV and playing against the best and competing,” he said. “ At the time I did not even think about it – I was just doing it every day. All the hard work I done was paying off on the pitch.
“You don’t really think about it until you look back. But it was a lot of fun.”
He has no regrets about retiring.
“I live very much in the moment and move on to the next thing,” he said. “I’ve always been like that. I never I celebrated promotion or big wins like the others do. I would just say ‘I’m going on holiday for a week – see you later’.
“We all have our moments we remember, but mainly I just like to do things as consistently as possible – that’s what’s stood me in good stead.
“I wasn’t often bad at Millwall and every now and then I would have really good games which put us on a pedestal.
“I loved every minute of it. And every game at Norwich, we were playing incredible players and incredible clubs and other incredible moments and my son got to see me do that.”