'He is with us for reasons beyond football': Portsmouth boss on why Mahlon Romeo's smiling again after escaping Millwall
Danny Cowley believes smiling Mahlon Romeo will flourish at Fratton Park after escaping his ‘tough period’ at Millwall.
Early indications are the attacking right-back is an outstanding capture by the Blues after linking up on a season-long loan.
His display in Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw with Plymouth marked successive man-of-the-match accolades in his opening two League One starts for the Blues.
Cowley acknowledges Pompey’s good fortune in being able to tempt Romeo to drop into League One, with the defender keen to leave Millwall.
His time at The Den soured over the issue of taking the knee before matches.
With the stance drawing an adverse reaction from some Millwall supporters, the 26-year-old responded by publicly criticising their behaviour.
Now he is revelling in a fresh start at Fratton Park.
Cowley told The News: ‘Mahlon is above this level. He is with us for reasons beyond football and we are lucky to have him.
‘Do you know what, it has been a tough period for him and all I said to him when he signed was my only ambition is to try to get him enjoying football again.
‘Nights like Tuesday will certainly go towards that.
‘He’s athletic, has power, and I love his energy. He’s a top player.
‘What a shot which hit the post, it was a good ball from Marcus (Harness) and a great technique from Mahlon, it was like Marco van Basten!
‘He’s going to be a good player for us, we need that pace and athleticism in the team.
‘I’ve liked him at right-back and I like him at wing-back, which is great for us and gives us good flexibility.
‘I think he can bring us that athleticism, pace and power.’
The calibre of Romeo’s early Pompey performances should not surprise considering he remains an established Championship performer.
He has spent four full seasons at that level, while featured in two of their opening four Championship matches this term.
The full-back’s previous League One campaign was in 2016-17, which ended in Millwall winning promotion through the play-offs, beating Bradford City in the final.
Romeo, who signed a new long-term deal with The Lions in March 2020, has already cast doubt over returning to his parent club.
In the meantime, Pompey are enjoying his ongoing presence at Fratton Park.
Cowley added: ‘There was one time in the first half against Plymouth when he did a sprint recovery.
‘They had a counter-attack and he turned it over, just won a ball he should never have won, then offensively set us on our way.
‘He is so dynamic, so penetrative, and can give us what any modern-day team wants and needs.’
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