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Lions stalwart Craig leaves Millwall

Skipper departs for pastures new...

31 January 2018

Millwall Football Club can announce that Tony Craig's contract has been cancelled by mutual agreement.

The 32-year-old, who has made 322 appearances for The Lions over three spells, will be departing the club to pursue new challenges.

Craig made his Millwall debut on 26th April 2003 in a 3-3 draw with Nottingham Forest, before appearing at The Den - and scoring - for the first time the following week as The Lions closed out the 2003/4 campaign with a 2-0 victory over Coventry City.

The defender began to stake a claim in the first-team squad the following season, playing nine further games in a year that ended in memorable fashion as the club reached its first ever FA Cup Final.

A loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers sent Craig away from The Den for the first time in 2004/5, but the left-back started to nail down a regular place in Millwall's side as The Lions tried to win promotion back to The Championship following relegation. Craig appeared 33 times as the club finished in 10th place.

The defender's second Lions goal - just like his first - came on the final day of the season in 2006/7 as Millwall drew 2-2 at Bradford City.

That proved to be Craig's last start in a blue shirt as he moved across south London to Crystal Palace in the summer of 2007, but after just seven months away, the defender returned to The Den on loan and once more found the net in his last game of the season - this time at home as Carlisle United were defeated 3-0.

That loan spell became permanent in the close season and Craig once more returned to the heart of Millwall's defence, making 52 appearances as Kenny Jackett's side reached the League One Play-Off Final, only to lose out to Scunthorpe United at Wembley.

Of course, the following year The Lions bounced straight back and returned to Wembley to win the Final, this time beating Swindon Town by a single goal.

The skipper scored two goals in 35 appearances that season - a crucial strike in a 2-1 promotion-six-pointer victory over Norwich City and a long-range effort at The Den as The Lions defeated Gillingham 4-0.

The defender made the step up to The Championship along with the club, playing 26 times as The Lions held their own in their first season back in the second tier, finishing in ninth place.

A brief loan spell at Leyton Orient in the latter part of 2011 saw Craig move away from The Den once more, but he returned to south London to play 32 times in a campaign that saw the introduction of striker Harry Kane to the world of football.

A 2-2 draw with Blackpool in May 2012 proved to be the defender's last game in a Millwall shirt for a while as he moved to Brentford, where he experienced further Play-Off final action as The Bees lost out to Yeovil.

However, the following season, Brentford, captained by Craig, marched to automatic promotion, finishing second only to Wolves, who romped to the title with 103 points.

July 2015 saw Harris, now Lions manager, swoop to bring the defender back to Millwall, with Craig making his third debut in a 2-1 win at Shrewsbury Town on the opening day of the 2015/16 season. 24 appearances later and more Play-Off heartbreak was suffered at the hands of Barnsley, but in a twist of fate and deja vu, Millwall returned to Wembley once more 12 months later and won promotion by beating Bradford City 1-0.

Between those two Finals, Craig was handed a testimonial by the club, which saw a 1-1 draw played out with former club Brentford.

A classic encounter at Bristol Rovers on the final day of the campaign ensured The Lions' place in the Play-Offs, with Craig amongst the goals as Millwall won an epic 4-3 thanks to Shaun Hutchinson's late header.

The defender found his options and game-time limited in 2017/18, but he did make his 300th Millwall start in January's 2-2 Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round draw with Rochdale at The Den.

With 322 games, nine goals, two promotions and a bag full of memories to his name, Tony Craig's Millwall career will be remembered for years to come.

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