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Millwall manager Neil Harris holds back tears as he speaks on Matija Sarkic’s death

Millwall manager Neil Harris holds back tears as he speaks on Matija Sarkic’s death, which was confirmed at the weekend.

Sarkic tragically passed away at the age of 26 on Saturday after falling ill during international duty and days after he played for Montenegro.

Days on, the Millwall boss recalled how he received the heartbreaking news, and he also praised the talented young goalkeeper.

Interviewer Mark Litchfield: Neil, thank you for joining us. Unfortunately we meet and we talk in devastating circumstances following the tragic passing of Matias Sarkic over the weekend. First of all a can you put your feelings into into words? And the weekend, how has it been for you since then?

Neil Harris: First, thoughts have to go with Matty’s parents and his brothers. A wonderful son and wonderful brother. That was a really caring, good man, obviously getting a call Monday morning at seven o’clock. First thing on the weekend, you know, its not going to be positive news, but you can never imagine the devastating the devastation. I should say, in the moment that you find out that such a good man at such a tender age has lost his life words find it hard to explain how you feel. What makes it very emotional for me is, I have a 22 year old son myself. Matty is always only a few years older. So I think any human being, any fan, any Millwall fan, but anybody in life can relate to something like that. So, yeah, devastating news for the family for our football club.

Interviewer: 26 years old, as you say, it’s no age at all. I understand, there’s been contact with the family through Andy Marshall, a man who obviously would have spent a lot of time with day to day at the training ground.

NH: Yes, obviously one wonderful family. Marsh was very close to the family. Mattie’s dad wasn’t only obviously his proud father, but also a huge advisor and mentor in his career. And i know he lent heavily on his brothers as well to follow their guidance. And Andy was obviously quite close with the family due to coaching him at a younger age and then at Villa and then sort of onto us as well. So Marsh was the one who took the initial call and had to deal with that moment before passing on to me. And fantastic for us that we can share our thoughts and our emotion with them and send our condolences. But obviously very difficult moment for Andy as well.

Interviewer: If we celebrate Matty’s life for a moment. Ourselves in this room and players staff, teammates, etc, at this club would have seen a bright young man, always happy to talk, always happy to smile and say hello in the morning etc. What was he like to deal with first and foremost as a person, but also then as a colleague and this football club’s goalkeeper.

NH: What bloke. No surprise, that when you read, sort of obituary is on social media. And people so close to him talk so fondly of him. You know, they talk about his radiant smile and his human nature and his goodwill. I only worked with Matty for a three month period. Obviously, I was with him last Thursday at the training ground and just a huge smile on his face. So excited about beginning to see the family in Montenegro that evening. And even then, just radiant. He’d had a great summer performed so well for his nation against Belgium and been to his brother’s wedding so proud and as a character, at the training ground every day came in. We lose our draw, smile on his face and just wanted to be better. You know, that was his thought process. His philosophy was, right how can he play well, play better, how can he best version of himself, and people shouldn’t think he was a laid back keeper, he was driven and had high aspirations to keep moving forward, he wanted to build his caps up for his country but also play well for us and drag us forward and I can’t praise him enough as a human being in the time I knew him and as a professional as well And he doesn’t always feel right to talk sort of work in moments like this. But I think in Matty’s case, it does because he loved the game. He loved the game. He loved his job.

Interviewer: We’ve seen the tributes outside already fans pouring down here to lay flowers, shirts or some Montenegro flags and scarves outside there etc. It’s a chance for the fans and everyone now to come together as this football club always does to honour the life of Matty.

NH: Yeah, and I think that’s what we do here. And you know, fans always use the phrase once a line. Always a line. And i think that speaks volume for us as a football club. And I think this Matty was extremely proud to represent us. The book downstairs will be signed by a lot of people as John’s was when he passed an opportunity to just pay a moment of respect. Supporters appreciate what people do for their football club. And in the coming weeks and months there’ll be various tributes. Everybody start talking behind the scenes how we can pay our respects and honour Matty’s life, but also his time at our football club. ”

Twitter users reacted after Millwall manager Neil Harris holds back tears as he speaks on Matija Sarkic’s death…

@daniel_treharne: Incredibly sad to hear the passing of someone so young. Great words from Neil who I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of times and who is a family man himself.

@scottjohnrober1: Such a tragedy another lion gone far to soon heartbreaking 💔

@FadedMFC: Amazing tribute from Neil. Still can’t quite believe what’s happened. RIP Mati.

@groundsmendean: Once a lion always a lion rip Mati

OwenCoe3: I’m not a Millwall supporter, but the way that your club has dealt with this, the true emotion from Neil Harris, the memories, the nightmare he was to play against last season, you’ve all done your club proud. RIP (Coventry City supporter)

@HonestMillwall: I feel like after losing JB, we lost a big part of our club. I think this man below is the only one they can bring this club together and lead us in a situation like this. You can tell this was hard but he still manages to keep it together and speak with leadership.

@HPackham17: Regardless of whether he stays on as manager past this season. I think Harris has to stay involved in the club for the foreseeable future. Make up a role for him if you have to. He will make sure that our identity stays. His leadership skills are second to none

@JPMillwall2: Couldn’t think of someone I’d rather have in charge of this club at a time like this. Forget on the pitch – with everything the club has been through in the past 12 months, Harris is the perfect man to navigate us through off the pitch

@ann_maslin: started me crying again… our second summer of losing a great man and servant to our club… sleep peacefully Mati… forever a Lion

💔😢 well said gaffer RIP Mati
Once a 🦁 always a 🦁

@christinewwfc: Beautiful tribute 💔

@MRPD_MFC: Well said bomber. RIP

@NFFC_Callum: Amazing interview ❤️ rip sarkic ❤️

@AlexDon39374386: Class guy Harris 👏 RIP Matija 🙏

@CAslett97: Neil’s ability to keep it together there is phenomenal. Once a Lion, always a Lion 🦁

@Dan_Wall06: No better man to lead this club through this moment. 💙💙💙 Hope the club do something similar for fans to pay respects at the ground like they did for JB.

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