Neil Harris (footballer, born 1977)

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Neil Harris
Neil Harris.JPG
Harris as manager of Millwall in 2015
Personal information
Full nameNeil Harris [1]
Date of birth (1977-07-12) 12 July 1977 (age 41) [1]
Place of birth Orsett, England
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) [1]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Millwall (head coach)
Senior career*
1996–1998 Cambridge City
1998–2004 Millwall 233 (93)
2004Cardiff City (loan) 3 (1)
2004–2007 Nottingham Forest 33 (1)
2005–2006Gillingham (loan) 36 (6)
2007–2011 Millwall 147 (32)
2011–2013 Southend United 40 (8)
Teams managed
2013–2015 Millwall U21s
2013–2014 Millwall (caretaker)
2015– Millwall
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Neil Harris (born 12 July 1977) is an English professional football manager and former player who played as a striker. He is the manager of Championship club Millwall.

Manager (association football) Head coach of an association football team

In association football, a manager is an occupation of head coach in the United Kingdom responsible for running a football club or a national team. Outside the British Isles and across most of Europe, a title of head coach or coach is predominant.

Football player Sport person who plays football

A football player or footballer is a sport person who plays one of the different types of football. The main types of football are association football, American football, Canadian football, Australian rules football, Gaelic football, rugby league and rugby union.

Forward (association football) Association Football position played near the opponents goal

Forwards are the players on an association football team who play nearest to the opposing team's goal, and are therefore most responsible for scoring goals.


Harris is Millwall's all-time record goalscorer, with 138 goals in all competitions. He broke the previous record of 111 goals, held by Teddy Sheringham, on 13 January 2009, during a 3–2 away win at Crewe Alexandra. He has made the fourth most appearances for the club, with 432. He also played for Cambridge City, Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest, Gillingham and Southend United. Harris retired from professional football in June 2013 and took up a coaching role at Millwall. Having briefly acted as caretaker-manager after the dismissal of Steve Lomas in January 2014, Harris was given the same role following the dismissal of Ian Holloway in March 2015 and was confirmed as permanent manager of Millwall on 29 April 2015. [2] He is the seventh longest serving manager in English football and the longest serving in the Championship.

Teddy Sheringham English footballer and manager

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Crewe Alexandra F.C. English association football club

Crewe Alexandra Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Crewe, Cheshire, England. The team compete in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. Nicknamed The Railwaymen because of the town's links with the rail industry, they have played at Gresty Road since 1906, when they moved from their original home at the Alexandra Recreation Ground. Supporters maintain rivalries with a number of nearby clubs, their fiercest rivals being Staffordshire-based side Port Vale.

Cambridge City F.C. English association football club

Cambridge City Football Club is an English football club currently based in Impington, Cambridgeshire. The team competes in the Southern League, Division One Central. Formed in 1908 as Cambridge Town, the club have spent their entire history as a non-league club, and have operated as amateur, professional, and semi-professional at different periods.

Playing career

Early career and Millwall

Harris was born in Orsett, Essex, [1] and educated at Brentwood School. One of his earliest clubs was Maldon Town but his real football career began when he signed for Cambridge City. In December 1997 he had a trial at Liverpool, [3] however this didn't lead to a transfer. He was later sold to Millwall for a fee of £30,000 on 25 March 1998. In his first full season, he was named player of the year for Millwall and later helped them to a Second Division championship in 2000–01 with a remarkable goal scoring record. Harris was the Golden Boot winner for being the top English goal scorer during the 2000–01 season, earning him the nickname of "Bomber", in reference to Arthur Travers Harris. Neil Harris was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2001, but after receiving intensive treatment including surgery, he was given the all clear a year later. As a consequence he set up a cancer charity, the Neil Harris Everyman Appeal. [4] By the end of his first spell at Millwall, Harris was not being played because the then player-manager Dennis Wise did not believe he was up to par, and that led him to sign for Cardiff City on loan to prove he was good enough for first team football at Millwall.

Orsett village in the United Kingdom

Orsett is a village and ecclesiastical parish located within Thurrock unitary district in Essex, England, situated around 5 km north-east of Grays.

Brentwood School, Essex independent day and boarding school in Essex, England

Brentwood School is a selective, independent day and boarding school in Brentwood, Essex, UK. The school comprises a preparatory school, senior school and sixth form, as well as boarding provision for both boys and girls. The school is coeducational, and employs the "Diamond Model". The school is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, the IAPS, the AGBIS, and the AMDIS.

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Harris made his debut for Cardiff City when he replaced Cameron Jerome during a 3–1 win over Gillingham and, after one more substitute appearance, was handed his first and only start for Cardiff when manager Lennie Lawrence named him to play against Sheffield United and he repaid the faith shown in him by scoring Cardiff's only goal of the game in a 2–1 defeat. [5]

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Gillingham F.C. Association football club

Gillingham Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Gillingham, Kent, England. The only Kent-based club in the Football League, the "Gills" play their home matches at the Priestfield Stadium. The team competes in League One, the third tier of the English football league system.

Robin Michael Lawrence commonly known as Lennie Lawrence, is an English football manager, coach and former player. He is currently employed as a First Team Management Consultant for EFL League Two side Newport County.

Nottingham Forest

Cardiff City and Harris could not agree terms and he was subsequently sold to Nottingham Forest for an undisclosed fee after they were relegated to Football League One in the 2004–05 season.

Nottingham Forest Football Club, often referred to as simply Forest, is a professional football club based in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England. Forest were founded in 1865 and have played home matches at the City Ground since 1898. They compete in the Championship, the second tier of the English football league system. They are currently the oldest club in the Football League.

Harris was unable to make an impact at the City Ground so was loaned out to Gillingham who had also been relegated to League One at the same time as Nottingham Forest. He scored six goals for Gillingham during his season long loan spell, at the end of which he returned to Forest.

City Ground stadium

The City Ground is a football stadium in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England, on the banks of the River Trent. It has been home to Nottingham Forest Football Club since 1898, and has 30,445 seats.

Promotion and relegation Process where teams are transferred between divisions

In sports leagues, promotion and relegation is a process where teams are transferred between multiple divisions based on their performance for the completed season. The best-ranked team(s) in the lower division are promoted to the higher division for the next season, and the worst-ranked team(s) in the higher division are relegated to the lower division for the next season. In some leagues, playoffs or qualifying rounds are also used to determine rankings. This process can continue through several levels of divisions, with teams being exchanged between levels 1 and 2, levels 2 and 3, levels 3 and 4, and so on. During the season, teams that are high enough in the league table that they would qualify for promotion are sometimes said to be in the promotion zone, and those at the bottom are in the relegation zone.

Harris was hoping to make an impact under new manager Colin Calderwood. Harris's old club Millwall made a loan deal for him on a six-month deal in August 2006, however Harris rejected the offer saying if he were to move it would have to be on a permanent basis, and with Darren Byfield and Ben May set to return from injury for Millwall, Harris believed he would have once again been forced out the side, which was the reason he left The Den in the first instance. Millwall therefore, withdrew from transfer negotiations.

Harris finally opened his goal-scoring account for Forest on 2 September 2006, after 21 months of waiting in a 4–0 victory against Chesterfield. [6] It was a cutely struck volley from a few yards out. His and his teammates' joy was clear to see in his celebration, as he ran towards the corner of the stadium and did not look as though he would stop, until his teammates caught up. In the post match report, he admitted he was finally enjoying life at Nottingham Forest. Nonetheless, a certain contingent of the Forest fans still criticised Harris for his relatively poor scoring record and somewhat poor performance record.

In January 2007 Harris' contract was terminated by mutual consent.[ citation needed ]

Return to Millwall

Harris re-signed with Millwall on an 18-month contract on 8 January 2007, less than 24 hours after leaving Forest. Speaking to BBC Sport the next day Harris stated, "There is something special about this club, it brings out the best in me as a player and a person. It feels like home, it always has done. I can't wait to get started."

On 20 January 2007, in his second game for Millwall, Harris made club history by scoring in the 16th minute of the 4–0 win over Rotherham to become Millwall's top league goal scorer with 94 goals, surpassing the previous club record of 93 goals he had jointly held with Teddy Sheringham. Harris informed the South London Press , on 23 January, that it was his intention to surpass Sheringham's 111 goal total for Millwall, stating: "There is no question of me relaxing after one goal. At last I can say, without putting too much pressure on myself, that I want Teddy's overall record. The thing I've always wanted is to be number one, and that means getting a total of 112."[ citation needed ]

Ian Tomlinson wearing a "Neil Harris all-time leading goal scorer" T-shirt over a Millwall top, shortly before his death during the 2009 G-20 summit protests. Ian Tomlinson just before he was struck.JPG
Ian Tomlinson wearing a "Neil Harris all-time leading goal scorer" T-shirt over a Millwall top, shortly before his death during the 2009 G-20 summit protests.

Towards the end of the 2007–08 season, as the club were mired in a relegation battle, Millwall boss Kenny Jackett told Harris that his contract would not be renewed in the summer as he was not in his first team plans for the following season; younger players such as Lewis Grabban, Gary Alexander, Bas Savage and Marc Laird had pushed him down the pecking order. Harris responded by stating that he had no intention of leaving the club he loved in its hour of need. Jackett brought Harris back into the first team squad on 15 March 2008, due to an injury to Gary Alexander that kept him out for the remainder of the season. Harris was instrumental in securing Millwall's League One status, scoring one goal and turning provider for the other two in Millwall's 3–0 home win over Carlisle United on 26 April. After a strong set of performances, the 30-year-old striker had managed to change Kenny Jackett's mind and was offered a new one-year contract on 6 May. Harris stated: "The club have made me a new offer which has pleased me professionally, because it shows that I have done enough to change the manager's mind. That makes me very happy."[ citation needed ] Harris signed a new one-year contract with The Lions on 4 June 2008. [7]

On 13 January 2009, Harris broke Teddy Sheringham's all time goal scoring record for Millwall during the 3–2 away win against Crewe Alexandra with his 112th goal for the club. [8] On 4 April, Harris signed a new one-year extension to his contract.

On 9 May 2009, Harris scored a vital 71st-minute goal in the first leg of the play-off semi final against Leeds United to put them 1–0 up going into the second leg at Elland Road.

On 11 August 2009, Harris scored a hattrick in a first round League Cup tie at home to AFC Bournemouth. [9] Neil also scored the opening goal in the 3–1 extra time defeat to West Ham in the next round of the League Cup. [10] Harris scored once in the 3–1 victory over Huddersfield Town, [11] and also netted a hat-trick in the 4–0 away win at Stockport County. [12]

Harris suffered minor injuries during the latter part of the autumn 2009, but was in form again in January.

On 28 January 2010, Harris prolonged his contract with Millwall until 2012. [13]

Southend United

On 9 June 2011, Harris agreed a three-year deal with Southend United. He had a year to run on his deal with Millwall but manager, Kenny Jacket agreed to cancel the strikers contract by mutual consent allowing him to sign for his hometown club on a free transfer. [14] He scored his first goal for the club in a 4–0 win at Rotherham United on 24 September 2011. [15] Harris retired on 21 June 2013 after failing to recover from an injury. [16] [17]

Managerial career


Before taking over as permanent manager in the summer of 2015, Harris had several stints as caretaker manager.

First, he became caretaker manager, along with Scott Fitzgerald, taking over from the sacked Steve Lomas, on 26 December 2013, in which time they played 3 games, drawing one and losing twice, including a 4-1 away loss to Southend United in the FA Cup. [18] The couple were then replaced by Ian Holloway on 7 January 2014.

Harris then again took over as caretaker boss on 10 March 2015, when Holloway was sacked. [19] By the time Harris took over, Millwall were already virtually, whilst not mathematically, relegated, however Harris went on to win 2 and draw 4 of his 9 games in charge, almost keeping the Lions in the Championship. On 28 April, the Lions were officially relegated to League One following Rotherham United's 2-1 win against Reading, [20] however, Harris was confirmed as Millwall's permanent manager less than 24 hours later, [21] with his assistant being his 2004 FA Cup Final teammate, David Livermore.

In His first full season as manager Harris led Millwall to the League One Play-Off Final against Barnsley at Wembley after finishing 4th in the League One table and overcoming Bradford City 4-2 on aggregate in the Play - Off Semi-Finals. The Lions lost the play-off final 3-1 to Barnsley.

In 2016-17 season Harris again led Millwall to Wembley after they finished 6th in the League One table and overcame Scunthorpe United 3-2 in the Play-Off semi finals. Millwall won the play-off Final against Bradford City 1-0 to win promotion to the Championship. He also led Millwall to the F.A Cup quarter finals after knocking out 3 Premier League teams Bournemouth, Watford and Premier League Champions Leicester City before losing 6-0 against Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter finals.

Managerial statistics

As of match played 5 May 2019
Managerial record by team and tenure
Millwall (caretaker)26 December 20137 January 20143012000.0 [22] [23]
Millwall10 March 2015Present233996074042.5 [22]


As a player



As a manager


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  1. 1 2 3 4 Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2010). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2010–11. Mainstream Publishing. p. 188. ISBN   978-1-84596-601-0.
  2. "Neil Harris appointed Millwall manager". 29 April 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  3. "Football: This Week's Transfers". Independent. 13 December 1997. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  4. "Harris launches cancer appeal", BBC Sport, 22 November 2001
  5. "Sheff Utd 2–1 Cardiff". BBC Sport. 18 December 2004. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
  6. "Nottm Forest 4–0 Chesterfield". BBC Sport. 2 September 2006. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
  7. Harris
  8. "Neil Harris breaks Teddy Sheringham's Mllwall record". The Daily Telegraph. London. 13 January 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  9. "Millwall 4 – 0 Bournemouth". BBC Sport. 10 August 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
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  13. Archived 24 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Archived 13 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  15. "Rotherham 0 – 4 Southend". BBC Sport. 24 September 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  16. "Neil Harris: Southend United and ex-Millwall striker retires". BBC Sport. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  17. "Neil Harris retires from football". Southend United F.C. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
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  20. "Rotherham United 2-1 Reading". BBC Sport. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
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