The term “cult hero” often gets thrown around by football fans but in Keith Millen, the Crystal Palace faithful have a man the term may as well have been invented for.
Now at MK Dons, Keith is no longer professionally involved with the Eagles but he remains interested in the club’s fortunes from afar and is unashamedly ecstatic with the job Roy Hodgson has done to date.
Having worked closely with a large portion of the squad for a number of years, Keith is well aware of the moral strength that exists within the dressing room and seems to have no concerns about our chances of surviving the drop from the Premier League for a record fifth consecutive season.
With so many managers having come and gone during his time at Selhurst Park, Millen doesn’t miss the regular responsibility of stepping in as a caretaker but you get the impression from his quotes that he doesn’t regret a second of the spell he enjoyed with us in the dugout.
It’s rare to find any coaches who openly identify with Palace as their “dream club” but in Keith, we had just that. Yes, tactically he may not have been as sophisticated as some but no one was ever left in any doubt over the fact that he cared deeply about our successes and failures and in an industry as fickle as professional football, that sense of loyalty goes a hell of a long way.
Whilst I wouldn’t swap Roy Hodgson and Ray Lewington for any other coaching duo at the time of writing, I have no qualms in admitting that I retain a deep level of respect for Keith Millen and expect my feelings to remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.
Brought in by Ian Holloway back in 2012, Keith was the steadying hand behind the scenes during an incredibly turbulent few years and it is because of that sense of calm that I will always be grateful to him. Plenty of coaches look to earn respect through ruling with an iron fist but thanks to Millen, we saw that it was still possible for battle-hardened professionals to be won over by a calming approach.
He’ll always be welcome at Selhurst Park as far as I’m concerned.