THE turnaround that Danny Shittu has made since his sending off against Millwall just 19 months ago has been nothing short of remarkable.
Who would have thought that after his disastrous display for QPR in a 2-0 loss at The Den just two season's ago, Shittu would go on to captain Millwall to a crucial victory over Bolton last week?
Shittu had a shaky couple of games for the Lions during his first stint at The Den back in 2011, raising question marks over his weight and match fitness.
However, he went on to produce a string of outstanding displays at the heart of the defence, helping Millwall keep four clean sheets in his nine appearances.
The Lions conceded one goal in Shittu's final four games before he joined QPR after just three months in SE16.
His move to Loftus Road was met with much angst amongst Millwall fans, particularly as the move appeared to be financially motivated.
Whilst we would all welcome a pay rise if the chance presented itself, Shittu showed a distinct lack of loyalty to a club that had given him an avenue back into the game after he was released by Bolton.
Three months later and Shittu was back at The Den – but wearing hoops – and his every touch of the ball was met by a chorus of jeers from the home crowd.
It was one of those nights where everything simply played into our hands, most notably as Shittu's performance gradually worsened.
On the hour mark, Steve Morison turned Shittu inside-out, fired past Paddy Kenny and The Den erupted. Less than ten minutes later, the same two players clashed again.
Morison got the better of the Nigerian, who this time could only trip the striker inside the box and concede a penalty. The biggest cheer of the night ensued as Shittu was shown a straight red card.
But fast forward a year-and-a-half and the same man is back at the place where he endured one of the lowest points of his career.
The man-mountain rejoined Millwall at a time when defensive cover was in short supply and he immediately gained the respect of many fans, myself included, simply for having the courage to return to a club he had previously turned his back on.
This time though, things are different. He looks leaner, fitter and more determined than ever to prove any doubters wrong. He was then awarded the vice-captaincy role, relieving Liam Trotter of such a 'burden' to let him focus on his creativity within the team.
Shittu's experience at the top level and his influential character made him the perfect candidate to fill the void left by Paul Robinson's injury.
And against Bolton it was clear to see that he relishes these new responsibilities.
Describing a defender's performance as 'solid' is grotesquely overused in football commentary – however, I will make one exception to use the word in the literal sense to do Shittu's display against Wanderers some justice.
In my 14 years or so of visits to The Den, I have seen some top, top performances from centre-backs, of which we have had a decent number.
The likes of Keith Stevens, Stuart Nethercott, Joe Dolan, Sean Dyche, Darren Ward and Richard Shaw all put in their share of outstanding defensive performances while at the club and Shittu's display against Bolton would be right up there with the best of them.
He captained his Millwall side the only way he knew how – he led by example, he showed desire, strength, grit and a willingness to win every single 50-50.
Bolton's Chris Eagles, who had tormented both players and fans throughout, got his chance to silence the Lions crowd when he was awarded a penalty in the 63rd minute.
Eagles, always the antagonistic prima donna upon visits to The Den, got an earful of what god only knows from captain Shittu prior to taking his spot-kick.
Low and behold, Eagles skied it. And just when he wanted the ground to swallow him up, Shittu was in the winger's face again giving him verbals.
There is not much I wouldn't do to know what Shittu said before and after the penalty was taken.
Shittu also defended his team when decisions went against us – most notably when Trotter was felled by Zat Knight inside the Bolton area, a stonewall penalty if ever I saw one. Shittu was in the referee's ear about it.
Now I usually detest players moaning to the officials when decisions go against them, but it was nice to see that some of the anger felt by the crowd was vented through our captain.
Even though the original decision was upheld, we felt our views were represented on the pitch.
Robinson will no doubt be given the armband upon his return to the first team, something which I only welcome, but how comforting is it as a Millwall fan to know that we have a ready-made replacement like Danny Shittu waiting in the wings?