LEE Martin admits he would have walked away from Millwall at the end of last season had Steve Lomas remained as manager.
So the winger is glad that his favourite boss, Ian Holloway, replaced the Northern Irishman in January – and then offered him a new deal.
After returning from holiday in Dubai last month, Martin put pen-to-paper on a two-year contract extension at The Den.
That second year was crucial for the 27-year-old – hence talks to keep him in SE16 took longer than expected.
But Martin insists his Millwall future was “never in doubt”.
And he has spoken for the first time of the extent of his unhappiness under Lomas, who he claims misled fans about his injury record.
“A lot of what was put out there wasn’t true,” Martin told the Southwark News.
“I was fit to play. The gaffer at the time was very clever in how he put things out there. I had a couple of niggles but they were only niggles and I’d be fit again in a few days.
“It was tight hamstrings and things like that. I was unfortunate with a couple but the majority of the time I was fit, ready to play but I wasn’t being picked for whatever reason.
“Under Lomas I was unhappy and I would have left had he still been in charge.”
In the wake of Holloway’s appointment, Martin was ordered to improve his fitness.
And it wasn’t until the final run-in that he reached his peak.
“When the new manager came in, he was expecting to see a different player,” Martin said.
“Eventually I got there with my fitness but it took a lot longer than he thought it would.
“I was playing well towards the end of the season because I was fit. I hadn’t been fit.
“People hear that and wonder what you’ve been doing in training, but match fitness comes by playing games and I hadn’t been playing.
“By December, I’d played a full 90 minutes on just two occasions – and both of those were behind-closed-doors.
“Going into the New Year I’d started only once and I wasn’t fit enough.
“Last year was a bit of a blur – I didn’t play and then I did play. It was only in the last eight games that I felt fit.
“Before then I was worried if I’d last 70 mintues and that’s no way to approach a game. I was thinking about getting through a match rather than relaxing and enjoying it.”
Martin believes that Holloway is the perfect boss for him.
“I trust him because I know what he can get out of me,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation.
“I was never going anywhere else to be honest. I got off the phone after speaking with him and I said to my mum and my girlfriend how brilliant the gaffer is.
“We had a little chat and I was so fired up after it that I wanted to play football then and there. It was a very motivitational speech.
“As soon as Ollie agreed to give me a second year, I was always going to sign.
“The manager knows what’s good for me.”