JED Wallace revealed what he was thankful for after his permanent transfer from Wolves to Millwall – Steve Morison’s “big size elevens”.
Morison scored the winning goal in the League One play-off final against Bradford in May to secure a 1-0 win and promotion to the Championship.
It is unlikely Millwall would have been able to entice Wallace to join them permanently had they missed out on going up.
Wallace always stressed that the Championship was where he wanted to play, but he would have been left facing an uncertain future at Wolves, where injuries and struggles with form restricted him to just 25 games in two seasons.
But once the Lions claimed their Wembley victory Wallace was convinced a permanent deal would go through after two previous successful loan spells.
“It was always if Millwall got promoted then 90 per cent I was going to sign here,” he said. “In my head it was 100 per cent, I just had to tick the boxes for the club and play well.
“I said to my family this week what a relief it was after [the play-off final]. Otherwise I would have had to go back to Wolves and it would have been all over the place with all the other lads, trying to get flogged.
“Luckily Moro’s big size elevens have got me here, close to my family and a really good group of friends. I just really like it here.
“It’s easy for some players when they go on loan to just treat it like that. I never did that, it was always a club I wanted to play for and luckily now it’s worked out that way.”
Wallace insisted that the financial aspect of any agreement was secondary to playing regular first-team football.
“There are always different ways of looking at things,” he said. “I moved from Portsmouth to Wolves and my wages went up a lot, but I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t playing.
“Over two years I realised that wages are the least important part of it. If you’re playing football and enjoying it and improving then that’s the most important thing.
“There was a point at Wolves when I would have taken half the money to be playing every week rather than being paid and sitting in the stand. The last two years there were frustrating but thankfully that’s out of the way now and I can hopefully look forward to playing 40 games this season.”
Millwall announced a deal on Monday, part of a double swoop on Wolves, with George Savile also signing a three-year contract.
Both players had twice been on loan at Millwall, and their captures continues a recruitment trend of boss Neil Harris signing players he knows he can trust and can handle the demands of Lions supporters.
Wallace sees similarities between his former club Portsmouth and Millwall.
He explained: “I was playing at Portsmouth every week and getting eaten when we were getting relegated from League One.
“I look at Portsmouth and Millwall as being very similar, both working-men clubs where you go and run your heart out and if you do that then the fans will be having you.
“I played over 100 games with Portsmouth before I went to Wolves, so I understood the pressures of football. Wolves is a big club as well and every time I got the chance to play I knew I had to play out of my skin or I wouldn’t play the next game.
“So the pressure is always there in football. We had that pressure on us at Wembley and we’ll have it at Forest away and Ipswich at home, every game will be a massive game.
“That’s especially true in modern-day football when everything is so reactive. [Jose] Mourinho went 15 games unbeaten but because they drew eight of them he’s under pressure. You can lose two games in a row and suddenly everyone is doubting the squad, which was the case here last season. That’s the nature of football now.
“You can’t really look past the next game and the most important thing for me was to play football, which didn’t happen at Wolves.”
The permanent switch to Millwall ticked another box, with Wallace close to his family home.
Saville also admitted being back down south was an factor in his decision to join the Lions.
“Me and George are from Camberley and Millwall have always been an attractive club to us,” Wallace said. “One, it’s a good place to play your football and it’s a club that should always be in the Championship. Two, it’s an hour from home, so it’s perfect.
“I know Sav came here before and really enjoyed it. I spoke to Sav a bit but he had a year left at Wolves.
“I said to him, ‘it’s alright mate, I’ll come on loan again to League One and get promoted and you can just come and jump on the Championship bandwagon, no need to do Oldham away, that’s fine!’
“He’s a good lad and he knows the boys. It’s probably testament to the manager that he brings in people he knows and trusts. There’s not much loyalty in football anymore so it’s nice to see the manager is repaying people he trusts.”
Image: Millwall FC