BEN Thompson admitted he was in a “horrible place” last season – but his loan spell with Portsmouth has restored his confidence.
Thompson has been a revelation since his January return from Pompey, and has three goals and an assist in his last three league games.
Lions fan Thompson feels he’s playing with “freedom”, not only because he is in a more advanced midfield role but also that his spell with Kenny Jackett’s side gave him back his belief.
Thompson is now approaching games with “no fear” for Neil Harris’ team.
“I left Millwall and went to Portsmouth, and I needed to prove something. I needed to prove a point, I needed to play well. I wasn’t wanted at Millwall at the time and I just wanted to prove people wrong,” Thompson said after Saturday’s 2-0 win over West Brom.
“I thought the only way I could do that was play with freedom and play as I know I can. I’m going out on the pitch now and enjoying every minute, playing with freedom and doing things I wouldn’t have done before.
“I’ve learnt off other players, experienced pros. I’m learning every day and going into games with no fear. That’s when I play my best football.
“I went out on loan to gain that confidence back. I didn’t have that confidence last year. I was in the team for the cup games and coming on as a sub every now and again, it was demoralising if anything, it was a horrible place to be in and I didn’t want that again.
“I wanted to play my football week-in, week-out. You can’t beat that buzz on a Saturday afternoon going out in front of 10, 15 or 20,000 at Pompey. That’s all I wanted.
“I wanted to prove people wrong here, prove the manager wrong, in a sense. He sent me out on loan, he thought that was best for me at the time, and I think it was. I came back and feel a better player now than I did before.
“Last year the team was playing so well I didn’t have an argument because I’d never played in the Championship before. I came on as a sub a couple of times but hadn’t got that experience. I couldn’t say to the manager, ‘look, I’m going to be better than these players, why am I not playing?’
“They were doing well, look where we finished in the league. It was tough for me.
“I feel like I’ve cemented my place so long may it continue.”
Thompson set up Millwall’s second goal against the Baggies – after Jay Rodriguez had missed a penalty – when he crossed for Ahmed Hegazi to turn into his own net.
Thompson continued: “As a team we were outstanding, rode our luck a little bit with the penalty but I think we deserved the three points. It’s a massive push for us going into Wednesday night [against QPR] which is even more important now.
“I missed a sitter, got through and shanked it over with my left foot, I should have scored. I was kicking myself afterwards.
“It could have been 3-, 4-, 5-0 if we had taken our chances. But then again they missed a penalty. That could have changed everything, but that’s how football goes.”
Image: Millwall FC