Football: No One Likes Us, and I Do Still Care; EXCLUSIVE: Lion King Theo's Ready to Hand over His Crown 'BUT IT'S TIME TO STAND ASIDE' SAYS MILLWALL CHAIRMAN PAPHITIS

Sunday Mirror (London, England), November 14, 2004 | Go to article overview

Football: No One Likes Us, and I Do Still Care; EXCLUSIVE: Lion King Theo's Ready to Hand over His Crown 'BUT IT'S TIME TO STAND ASIDE' SAYS MILLWALL CHAIRMAN PAPHITIS


Byline: Paul SMITH

NO-ONE likes us, we don't care is Millwall's anthem, but it's not an accusation that could ever be levelled at the club's 45-year-old, Cypriot born chairman, Theo Paphitis.

Before Paphitis came to Millwall's rescue seven and a half years ago, the Lions were in danger of extinction - and few supporters outside of south London would have mourned their passing.

But Paphitis has spent his entire life trying to make a difference and when he stands down at the end of the season no-one will be able to argue that he did care and that he has left a profound mark on the game.

As well as taking on the unenvious task of reinventing a club previously only famous for its unruly fans, Paphitis also turned his attention to the game itself and brought welcome change to a sport that was suffocating the incompetence of its own authorities.

In his first major interview since deciding to step down as chairman, Paphitis said: 'When Millwall's administrators first approached me about getting involved I dismissed the notion out of hand.

"If I was ever asked to advise someone about getting involved in a football club I would tell them to sleep on it and if they woke up the following morning and still wanted to get involved they should go back to bed.

"Naturally I didn't take my own advice on board. I kept saying 'no, no, no' to the administrators, but when they had finished pulling on the heart strings I found myself at the altar.

"Only a fool goes into football to make money and a fool and his money are soon parted. But that was never my motivation, I did it for the love of it.

"It was two-fold really. The first issue was to get the club out of administration, the second was the buzz of becoming chairman of Millwall. Believe me it was like bestowing a knighthood on me."

Obstacles have never prevented Paphitis succeeding. Indeed he seems to thrive in the face of adversity.

Severe dyslexia didn't stop him from succeeding in business, so taking over a club with a bad image was merely an irritable inconvenience.

He said: "I wouldn't change anything I've achieved at Millwall.

"For the first time in our history we made an appearance at Wembley. We played in the First Division play-offs, we won a Second Division Championship, and after reaching the FA Cup final for the first time we brought European Football to The Den. We have broken loads of taboos.

"I admit it has been incredibly frustrating trying to change Millwall's image. Sometimes you wonder why you bother.

"We have tirelessly tried to address the problems at the club. Along the way we have fallen foul of some of the fans who don't like what I have done, but that is tough. My job is to consider the majority, not the minority who want to be argumentative

"Despite all our efforts Millwall still get a lot of bad publicity.

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Football: No One Likes Us, and I Do Still Care; EXCLUSIVE: Lion King Theo's Ready to Hand over His Crown 'BUT IT'S TIME TO STAND ASIDE' SAYS MILLWALL CHAIRMAN PAPHITIS
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