Neil Harris (footballer, born 1977)

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Neil Harris
Neil Harris.JPG
Harris was manager of Millwall from 2015–2019
Personal information
Full nameNeil Harris [1]
Date of birth (1977-07-12) 12 July 1977 (age 42) [1]
Place of birth Orsett, England
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) [1]
Playing position(s) Striker
Club information
Current team
Cardiff City (manager)
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 141 (31)
2011–2013 Southend United 40 (8)
Teams managed
2013–2015 Millwall U21s
2013–2014 Millwall (caretaker)
2015–2019 Millwall
2019– Cardiff City
* 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 footballer who played as a striker. He is the current manager of Championship club Cardiff City.


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]

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.

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]

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.

Harris was unable to make an impact at the City Ground so was loaned out to Gillingham [6] 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.

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. [7] 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. [8]

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. [9] 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. [10] Neil also scored the opening goal in the 3–1 extra time defeat to West Ham in the next round of the League Cup. [11] Harris scored once in the 3–1 victory over Huddersfield Town, [12] and also netted a hat-trick in the 4–0 away win at Stockport County. [13]

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. [14]

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 striker’s contract by mutual consent allowing him to sign for his hometown club on a free transfer. [15] He scored his first goal for the club in a 4–0 win at Rotherham United on 24 September 2011. [16] Harris retired on 21 June 2013 after failing to recover from an injury. [17] [18]

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. [19] 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. [20] 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, [21] however, Harris was confirmed as Millwall's permanent manager less than 24 hours later, [22] 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.

On 3 October 2019, Harris resigned as manager of Millwall. [23]

Cardiff City

On 16 November 2019, Harris was appointed manager of Championship side Cardiff City. [24]

Career statistics

Playing statistics

Source: [25]

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
ClubSeasonLeagueFA CupLeague CupOtherTotal
Millwall 1997–98 Second Division 3000000030
1998–99 Second Division391510006 [lower-alpha 1] 34618
1999–2000 Second Division382510203 [lower-alpha 2] 04425
2000–01 Second Division422731302 [lower-alpha 1] 05028
2001–02 First Division 21420001 [lower-alpha 3] 0244
2002–03 First Division40121000004112
2003–04 First Division3897110004510
2004–05 Championship 12100102 [lower-alpha 4] 0151
Cardiff City (loan) 2004–05 Championship3100000031
Nottingham Forest 2004–05 Championship130200000150
2005–06 League One 1000100020
2006–07 League One19100102 [lower-alpha 1] 0221
Gillingham (loan) 2005–06 League One36610002 [lower-alpha 1] 0396
Millwall 2006–07 League One215000000215
2007–08 League One273201000303
2008–09 League One35852003 [lower-alpha 5] 14311
2009–10 League One321311243 [lower-alpha 5] 04116
2010–11 Championship262103100303
Southend United 2011–12 League Two 33830105 [lower-alpha 6] 24210
2012–13 League Two7010101 [lower-alpha 1] 0100
Career total486140315175326566156

Managerial statistics

As of match played 4 July 2020
Managerial record by team and tenure
Millwall (caretaker)26 December 20137 January 20143012000.0 [26] [27]
Millwall10 March 20153 October 20192451026677041.6 [26]
Cardiff City 16 November 2019Present2912134041.4 [26]


As a player



As a manager


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