MAHLON Romeo this weekend returns to the scene where he was left “devastated” last season.
Romeo was sent off against Gillingham in the 86th minute of the last game of the regular League One campaign (above) and missed the play-offs.
It turned his return to Gillingham – who had released him 12 months earlier – from a triumphant to a miserable one.
He said he used the disappointment and channelled it in the right way as Millwall chase the play-offs again, but insisted Saturday is only about getting three points rather than any personal redemption.
“At that time I was devastated because I knew I wasn’t going to be playing in the play-offs for Millwall,” Romeo said.
“That was something I wanted to do, it was how I wanted to complete the season.
“It was really frustrating sitting out the play-offs. You’ve got to use it as fuel to get through tough times. You’ve also got to look at it in a positive way and try to use that frustration well and wisely.
“Both teams are fighting for something now but fighting for two completely different things. We’re fighting to go up, they’re fighting to stay up.
“The fans will be right at it. For us Saturday’s just an opportunity to get three points.”
Romeo has looked refreshed since regaining his place in the side having started just twice between December 17 and March 25.
His promising partnership with Jed Wallace on the right flank has also resumed. Wallace’s recall by Wolves in March last year and Romeo’s suspension for the play-offs had a bigger effect on Millwall than was probably realised at the time.
Romeo is full of praise for his team-mate.
“He’s such a good player and his future in the game is very bright,” Romeo said. “It’s a pleasure to play with him. He’s creative, unlocks doors, tries new things.
“And he’s unpredictable. He seems like he never runs out of energy, I don’t know how he does it, he’s like a Duracell bunny! He’s keen to do his defending as much as his attacking so I can’t really ask for much more from a player in front of me.
“Last year it upset the balance. This year it’s been going well so hopefully it can continue.”
Romeo and Wallace are two of 10 players in Millwall’s current first-team match-day 18 aged 26 or under, and he believes the influence of veterans Steve Morison and Tony Craig was crucial in steadying the ship after a recent run of five games without a win.
Romeo said: “They’re experienced pros. That’s so vital to us because we’ve got a young team. If things go a little bit off track they’ve got the wisdom to keep everyone in check.
“It’s really important to have players like that in the squad.”
Millwall have just two home games left in the regular League One season and currently have more home wins than any other side in the top four divisions.
“The Den is a hard place to come to when we’re on form,” Romeo said. “It’s somewhere I probably wouldn’t want to be playing unless it’s for Millwall.
“It’s where we feel comfortable, we all know our jobs. Home form has been really important this season.
“This is the crunch time. Five games left, it’s nothing. Every point matters now.”