Millwall player profile – Tony Warner (1999-2004)

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With current goalkeeper Jordan Archer having notched five consecutive clean sheets at The Den, the NewsAtDen team have decided to dedicate this week’s player profile to a similarly successful stopper.

In 2000-01, Millwall won the Division Two title with a record 93 points, scoring 89 goals in the process – with nearly a third of them coming from Neil Harris. However, at the other end, two men ensured that the Lions' last nine games at home ended with clean sheets. One of those was Willy Gueret, the other being this week’s star – Tony Warner.

Warner signed on a free transfer from Liverpool on July 16, 1999 after spells at Swindon Town, Celtic and Aberdeen on loan.

He made his Millwall debut on the opening day of the 1999-2000 season, in a 1-1 draw at Cardiff City, and went on to be a near ever-present, missing just one game – a 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic on January 15, with Nigel Spink stepping in in his absence.

The 2000-01 campaign was one of success for the club, with Warner sharing goalkeeping duties with Gueret towards the end of the season, as the Lions looked to wrap up promotion to Division One and the Division Two title.

The Frenchman was McGhee's choice for the LDV Vans Trophy ties against Northampton Town and Swindon Town earlier in the season, but was thrust into the limelight on February 3 when he made his league debut against Bristol Rovers at The Den.

'Denzil', as he became affectionately known due to his likeness to the Only Fools and Horses character, had to make do with a place on the bench for the next 11 games as the club went on a run that included just two defeats, but he reclaimed the number one spot for the trip to Walsall on March 31.

From there, Warner played every minute of every remaining game that season, conceding just twice in eight matches as the Lions wrapped up the title in style, with a 5-0 thumping of Oldham Athletic on the final day.

During this period, the stopper was regularly required to answer the cries of the Den faithful, who routinely asked 'Denzil, Denzil, what's the score?' with the ball inevitably stuck at the other end of the field, such was the Lions' success that year.

Warner played in every league game of the club’s first season back in Division One in 2001-02, having to leave the field just once, in the 59th minute of the game at home to Rotherham United, as the Lions cruelly missed out on a shot at the Premier League, thanks to Stern John's injury-time winner for Birmingham City in the play-off semi-final.

2002-03 was another ever-present year for Denzil, but the season opened in controversial circumstances as the Lions slipped to a 6-0 defeat to Rotherham on the opening day at The Den. It was later revealed that a dispute over bonuses affected the performance – most Millwall fans will know Warner's nickname!

(Incidentally, for the return game against the Millers, which Millwall won 3-1 to gain revenge, I was the club's mascot. While lining up in the tunnel, waiting to go out onto the pitch, Warner grabbed my head with such force I thought it was going to be ripped from my shoulders. When asked why he did it he quipped: "I do it to all the mascots – it's for good luck!")

The following season proved to be the goalkeeper's last at The Den, as he was released on a free transfer in the summer of 2004 after the Lions ended the season with an FA Cup Final appearance against Manchester United.

Warner completed the first half of the season without missing a minute, playing in the third-round tie with Walsall on January 4, but he was to play no part in the run-in, as Andy Marshall took his place between the sticks for the remainder of the campaign.

Denzil played his last game in a Millwall shirt on January 17, as a brace from Danny Dichio secured a 2-1 win for the Lions over their future FA Cup semi-final opponents, Sunderland.

He would go on to join Cardiff City before adding a plethora of clubs to his career stats, such as Fulham, Leeds United, Norwich City and Tranmere Rovers, before finishing his playing career with spells abroad at Wellington Phoenix and Floriana and then coming back home to Blackpool and Accrington Stanley.

Would Tony Warner feature in your greatest Millwall XI?

Mark Litchfield

(@IAmTheLitch)