'He'll be a great signing for someone' – Millwall boss bids farewell to 'hugely popular' striker

NEIL Harris insists Lee Gregory leaves Millwall with his “blessing” – adding the “hugely popular” striker would be missed “immensely” at the club.

Gregory, 30, made his final Lions appearance in the 1-0 defeat to Wigan on Sunday.

Gregory went off to a standing ovation from the away fans in the 67th minute at the DW Stadium when Harris replaced him with young striker George Alexander, who made his debut.

Gregory will leave Millwall on a free transfer when his contract expires this summer.

“I can only thank him for his efforts while I’ve been in charge. Not just his goal-scoring record, but his quality as a person,” Harris said.

“He is hugely, hugely popular in the changing room, massively popular with the staff because of his honesty, his trust, his performances and his work ethic.

“And he’s a fan favourite as well.

“We’re going to miss him immensely at the club. He goes with complete blessing from me to the future playing for a club further up north. He’ll be a great signing for somebody."

Gregory joined Millwall from Halifax for around a quarter of a million pounds in the summer of 2014.

The Sheffield-born striker excelled under Harris, scoring a hat-trick against Derby in April 215 four days before the Lions’ record goal scorer was confirmed as permanent manager having been in caretaker charge.

Gregory scored 77 times in 238 Millwall appearances and was top league goal scorer in each of his five seasons with the club.

Harris continued: “When I took over I changed to 4-4-2 because I thought Lee Gregory was going to be my best player. I changed to 4-4-2 because I thought it got the best out of him. It did and it has.

“It was always chucked at him that he couldn’t play in a 4-3-3 as a lone striker. Well, in the last three months we’ve played a 4-3-3 the majority of the time and he’s been one of the best strikers in the division.

“That shows his development as a player and a character.

“I’ve known for a period of time that he’s leaving, and so has he, but he’s been faultless in his performances. It shows why I’ve picked him, when I’ve left other players out of the squad recently.

“People have said why is the manager not playing him, why is he not picking him. Well I’ve left them out because they don’t want to be here or they don’t deserve to be here.

“Lee Gregory’s not going to be here – and I’ve 100 per cent known that for a period – but I’ve picked him every game because his professionalism and his attitude and everything that goes with it has been first-class.”

Image: Millwall FC

John Kelly