JED Wallace revealed every member of the Millwall side received a text message from Neil Harris after Saturday’s 2-1 win over Leeds United.
Harris resigned as Lions boss on Thursday after four-and-a-half years in charge and went to the training ground on Friday morning to say goodbye to the players and staff.
Wallace described Harris as a “class act” and insisted he had no idea the manager was on the verge of stepping down after the 1-1 draw with Luton last Wednesday.
“It’s been difficult,” Wallace admitted after scoring the opener against Leeds (above). “I saw the gaffer Friday, it was really emotional, a lot of the staff were in tears. That just sums the man up. He was an absolute legend as a player and as a manager he’s been unbelievable.
“I’ve literally just looked at my phone and he’s texted everyone individually and said, ‘well done today, lads, proud of the performance, brilliant result for you’.
“There’s probably a lot of managers out there hoping that after they’ve left the next game they lose.
“It sums the man up, he’s a class act.
"It’s a new era, the club moves on. He’d be the first to say that no one’s bigger than the club. We put in a great performance [Saturday]and hopefully climb the table now.
“I didn’t sniff it at all, honestly, not at all. He’s a passionate man, he was after the game [at Luton] and praised us for how we played for 40 minutes in the second half.
“I just didn’t see it coming. Speaking to him [Friday] you realise the low these managers go through. He was saying he was in the training ground every morning at 6am. You forget that these guys are actually normal people with kids and a wife that they’ve got to see.
“He just said that he felt like he needed a break. He’s left the club in a better place than he found it, that’s 100 per cent for sure. As a manager and a person I couldn’t speak more highly of him.”
Harris signed Wallace three times for Millwall, twice on loan from Wolves before a permanent transfer in the summer of 2017.
Wallace continued: “He’s given me the opportunity to play at this level and he’s always backed me and let me go and express myself, play how I want to play. He knew I’d always work my hardest every game for him.
“I’ve had two children since he’s been manager. A lot of people don’t see those things, when you’re in the hospital with your missus and you’re on the phone to him saying, ‘can I not come in tomorrow?’ You don’t get that in football now but he’s got that genuine human side: ‘Take as long as you want.’
“I’ve had times when I’ve had to ring him, I’m living in London two hours away from my family when my other half’s been ill and can’t look after the children and he’ll say, ‘Jed, do what you’ve got to do’.
“People don’t see that side of football sometimes. That’s very rare now with managers, to be honest. There are a lot of lads in that changing room who’ve been through a lot of things under him and he’s been very supportive throughout.”
Millwall defeated Leeds with Adam Barrett as caretaker boss, while Wallace also revealed the role of the club skipper after the shock departure of Harris and his assistant David Livermore.
Wallace said: “We’ve got a great captain in Alex Pearce who pulled a meeting and said, look, lads, it is what it is, the manager’s left. We all love him to bits but we move on as a football club. We owe that to the supporters and we owe that to Adam Barrett.
“He got us together, Ads is a great guy and has got respect as a coach already. He will be a good manager, whether it will be here or somewhere else. He’ll be a good manager in the future, and I think you saw that Saturday, he got us going. We came flying out of the blocks and put in a good performance for 45 minutes and spells in the second half and got what we deserved.
“Ads didn’t change much. He just gave us that belief and motivated us. He just said put a performance in that Livers and the gaffer deserved. There are very few managers that have as much respect from their players as what Neil Harris has and we put in a performance.
“It’s such a big game anyway, if you’re playing for Millwall and you can’t get up for Leeds United at home then you need to have a word with yourself. The lads individually, we had a right go and got what we deserved.
“I always enjoy the big occasions. At this level it doesn’t come much bigger, there’s a bit of needle there between the two clubs. We’ve had some great games with them. Today was another one, end to end. If you finish above them you’re going to be right up there.
“It was important that following two away draws we got a win here and now we go into Brentford away [on October 19].”
Image: Millwall FC