ADAM Barrett revealed he was asked by Neil Harris to take charge of today’s game against Leeds United – and said there were “tears shed” when the former Lions manager visited the training ground on Friday to say goodbye to players and staff.
Barrett was at his son’s football match when he took a call from Harris who broke the news. Barrett said there was no indication Harris had been thinking of stepping down.
Former Southend defender Barrett took charge his first-ever senior game as Millwall defeated Leeds United 2-1 on Saturday.
Jed Wallace’s penalty gave Millwall the lead before Tom Bradshaw brilliantly flicked in a second. Ezgjan Alioski scored at the start of the second half but Millwall were rarely threatened after that goal as they won for the first time in eight league games.
Harris stood down along with his assistant David Livermore on Thursday.
“It’s been a real topsy-turvy, whirlwind 24, 48 hours,” Barrett said. “I wanted to put a performance on and the lads wanted to put a performance on for Neil and David.
“They’ve been instrumental in this club. They turned the club around and put an infrastructure in place. I was proud that we got a performance for Neil and David.
“The gaffer brought me to the football club, he gave me an opportunity when I retired from playing. I will be forever thankful for that. To get a victory for him meant an awful lot to everyone involved in the football club.
“I’ve spoken to Neil a couple of times. He came in on the Friday and spoke to the staff and the players. Neil made his decision and stepped away and let us get on and prepare, the top professional and the top guy that he is.
“I spoke to him last night. I’ll always be in contact with him and I’m forever grateful to him for giving me my opportunity.
“It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours for me, quite emotional. Neil has been a close friend for a long time. David has been outstanding and I’ve worked closely with the pair of them for the last three years.
“I was just fully focused on this game today, it was all that was on my mind, let’s go and get a result today.”
Barrett revealed the moment he heard of Harris’ decision.
Barrett continued: “Neil phoned me Thursday evening, I was watching my boy play football for his school. Neil said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ I said, ‘I can’t sit down, I’m in a field!’ And he just said, ‘I’ve decided to resign, David’s going and I’d like you to take the game Saturday.’ It hit me like a tonne of bricks, I’m not going to lie.
“That’s how I found out. He said he really wanted me to take the game. He said, ‘I think you’re ready, I’ve worked with you a long time and I want you to take it, the board want you to take Saturday.’
“I’m employed by the football club and if they wanted me to take it and the gaffer insisted then I was more than happy to step up today and honour his request.
“It was a total shock. I was watching my boy playing for the school and quite enjoying it because they were winning, which was nice.
“I was really shocked as everyone was at the football club. I’m close with Neil, I’ve worked with him for a long time and known him a long time. It was a tough one to take but in football you move on. We had to prepare for a massive game.
“It’s been a whirlwind and an emotional few days and I’m just looking forward to a beer tonight with my wife.
“It was difficult because we came in yesterday morning and had Leeds around the corner. Neil came in, Dave came in and there were tears shed by staff. He met the players, he’s known a lot of the players a long time.
“He’s brought a lot of players to the football club, we’ve got a great spirit and you can see that. Neil created that.
“It was an emotionally draining 48 hours. A lot’s gone on and we had a quick turnaround from the Luton game Wednesday, we had to prepare the boys after the shock news.
“I thought the character shown there by everybody was outstanding. Maybe it was a good game because it’s Leeds and it’s got that added spice.
“But don’t take anything away from the players, what they produced was fantastic.
“I was adamant we would make it work and we would turn up today and give the two of them a performance. I know Neil will be sat there happy, I know Dave will be happy. It was for them."
Image: Millwall FC