Millwall's Romeo grabs chance after early professional blow

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

POTENTIAL Millwall star Mahlon Romeo is determined to relish his second chance in professional football after the disappointment of being released by Gillingham last season.

Former Arsenal trainee Romeo made his Millwall debut last Saturday and scored in the 3-0 Sky Bet League One win over Walsall.

The 20-year-old right-back signed his first professional contract in the summer and has been a key member of Justin Skinner's U21 side as they have progressed to the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup.

Romeo, who played for Antigua & Barbuda in their 2018 World Cup qualifiers last June, got his chance in Neil Harris' senior side because of injuries to Carlos Edwards and Shaun Cummings.

Romeo played only one game for Gillingham, alongside current Lions coach Andy Frampton in a 3-2 League Two defeat to Burton almost three years ago, and explained how his move to Millwall materialised soon after being told he had no future with the Gills last April.

"It was about 10 days after I left Gillingham, I came here on trial and went from there," he said. "There was a bit of back and forth because I was still under contract at Gillingham so technically I still had to be there. But they said I could go on trial to other places to an extent, so there was a bit of back and forth.

"It was maybe the last two or three weeks of the season I was here for.

"And it was literally the last week I had a meeting with the gaffer after training and he said: 'We're going to take you on for next season.'"

Romeo was familiar with at least one player at his new club, having competed against Alfie Pavey in the Kent County Cup when the striker was with Maidstone United.

"Obviously I know everything about Millwall, it's a massive club," Romeo said. "Everyone gets on really well.

"I know when the gaffer took over last season, it was sort of a last-minute thing, if I can put it like that. This season he could start afresh and do everything he wanted to do. I found it easier to get into that because it's a different environment with a fresh start in a fresh season."

Romeo found out last Friday he was in the starting XI for the Bescot Stadium fixture, and he revealed the messages his manager Harris had for him before and after the game as he vowed to keep working and keep his feet on the ground.

"The gaffer said to me beforehand, 'Do what you're good at, don't be nervous. Play your normal game'. And that's what I did.

"Afterwards he said 'Just keep training hard, and keep humble. Don't change'. I had the opportunity because of how I trained and how I worked, so that's what I've got to do now."

John Kelly