Neil Harris pays tribute to Olly Lee who has announced his retirement at the age of 31.
Gillingham manager Neil Harris says that Olly Lee will always be welcome at ME7 and he will be tracking his future with great interest after the player was sadly forced to retire at the age of 31.
The hugely-popular midfielder, who has appeared 113 times in a Gills shirt, has been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis and Raynaud's condition but Harris fully believes he can still continue to make a big impact in football.
“First and foremost,” said Harris, “I want to pay homage to Olly Lee and his career, his professionalism, his ability and his beautiful family. He’s a wonderful guy.
“We knew he was struggling pre-season but he was on fire. He just kept rolling with it.
“The condition just got worse quickly and it became apparent to Olly and us that he was struggling to effect training and games.
“Olly had to find in his own way that professional football is not for him now and it has taken a while to get to that decision but it’s the right thing for him and his family.
“Olly is a football man and he sees the game really, really well. He’s doing his coaching badges already, he started a few years ago so he’s well ahead of the curve on that.”
Harris believes that Olly’s wealth of experience and strong mentality will stand him in good stead and says he ticks all the right boxes to excel as a top coach.
“He sees the game really well,” said the Gills boss. “He’s not a player who relies on physicality or pace, he’s had to rely on his brain and cleverness, that normally lends itself to that player becoming a good coach.
“He’s a winner with leadership qualities and he will demand a lot from people around him.
“He will be a really good coach or even manager, he is really talented. I look forward to following his future pathway.
“He’s always welcome to come to the club. He’s welcomes here anytime.”