Millwall striker hints at contract extension talks after revealing he wanted Championship move

LEE Gregory admitted it was the persuasive power of Neil Harris that convinced him to give a promotion attempt another shot with Millwall.  

Gregory revealed he told Harris after the play-off final defeat to Barnsley last year that it was his ambition to play in the Championship.

Gregory, 28, will now have that opportunity with the Lions after their 1-0 win over Bradford in the League One play-off final at Wembley on Saturday.

Last summer there were rumours which turned out to be false that he had handed in a transfer request. Rotherham also tested Millwall’s resolve to hold on to their key striker with three bids for him.

Millwall turned all of them down, and Gregory said he spoke about that situation with Harris last summer.

He explained: “I said to the gaffer last year when we finished that I wanted to play in the Championship. He said, ‘come on, keep going, we’re going to get there’. Okay, we’ve not had as good a season as we had last year, but we’ve gone one better.

“You can forget all the critics, all the good or bad things, whatever, we’ve done what we set out to achieve.

“Me and the gaffer were speaking every day [last summer] and it didn’t happen. I’m not bothered now. Look what’s happened: they’ve gone down and we’ve gone up. The gaffer said to me at the start, ‘you’re my main striker, you’re staying here’. As soon as he said that, it was done, finished with, let’s go.”

Gregory is contracted until the summer of 2018, and he could seek to extend that deal.

“Yeah, why not?,” he said. “I’ve got another year, I’ll speak to the gaffer over the summer. I can’t wait to get back.

“I said to the gaffer last year I wanted to be a Championship player. I’m there now and I want to stay there. I want to stay with Millwall, they’re a big club and deserve to be in the Championship. We’re there and now we kick on.”

Millwall were distraught a year ago after their 3-1 defeat to Barnsley denied them a Championship place.

But with five minutes left in Saturday’s decider, Gregory flicked on Shaun Williams’ cross and Steve Morison finished at the back post to clinch promotion.

“It feels a lot better than last time,” Gregory said. “Personally and for the team it meant a lot. To come back this year and do it makes it extra special.

“The gaffer has been saying we need big-game players. Steve is 33 and he’s still doing it. It’s unbelievable. It just works well, we said all week in every interview: Why does it work? And it has worked again.

“It doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. The longer Steve carries on the better for me.

“The first year [in the Championship] it was about finding my feet, and I was gutted we got relegated. We’re back there and more experienced, we can’t wait.

“Everyone says the best way to go up is through the play-offs. This is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life. We’re going to celebrate and look forward to next season.”

The one disappointment on Sunday was the pitch invasion by some Millwall fans after the final whistle, and Wembley Stadium are now investigating.

Gregory said: “Everyone was disappointed, but then again you look back and emotions are high. I do stuff that I shouldn’t do, and everyone else does stuff they shouldn’t do. You can understand why they did it, and they soon got off and we had our celebration.”

Gregory was Millwall’s top scorer with nine goals in his only season playing Championship football after his move to the Lions from Halifax in 2014.

Asked if he was excited about any away trip in particular next season, Gregory replied: “Sunderland.

“It’s a good stadium, good fans, up there they always back the team. It’s a good atmosphere. It’s somewhere I’ve not played before, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly