Gary Rowett has admitted he was not always totally confident that Scott Malone would re-sign for Millwall.
The attacking defender, 30, penned a two-year contract earlier this week that will kick in once his Derby County terms expire at the start of July.
Malone scored six goals in 43 matches for the Lions last season – the terms of his loan deal meant he was ineligible to face his parent club.
“In my opinion he has been the best attacking left wing-back in the division if you look at his numbers,” said Lions boss Rowett. “He has the second most chances in our team, which is incredible for a full-back.
“He has played a lot of games and he has great energy, pace and mobility. Scott Malone is an absolutely fantastic signing.
“I wasn’t always confident, because he had such a good season. But I was hopeful. And I was hopeful that Scottie appreciated about what the group had helped him do this season. I knew there would be other clubs seeing if they could pinch him.”
Malone joined Derby in August 2018 but featured just 18 times in the 2019-20 season.
“I just think if you come somewhere and you’ve really enjoyed it, feel valued, respected and playing regularly then it becomes quite hard to move somewhere else just for a little bit more money,” said Rowett, who previously managed the Rams.
“Money is one thing, but those other factors are also very important – especially when you have been somewhere and not had that, for different reasons. Scottie, I’m sure, will have recognised that. But he has also got to feel like there is some ambition at the club.”
Malone has played 114 times for Millwall after initially arriving in SE16 from AFC Bournemouth in July 2012. He was sold to Cardiff City in January 2015.
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