‘A privilege’ – Millwall’s Jake Cooper pays emotional tribute to Matija Sarkic

Millwall’s Jake Cooper says it was a privilege to share a dressing room with Matija Sarkic after the goalkeeper tragically passed away at the age of 26.

The Montenegro Football Association (FSCG) said Sarkic died suddenly on Saturday morning, with Millwall saying they were “completely devastated”.

Sarkic, a Montenegro international, joined the Championship club from Wolves in August 2023 and made 33 appearances last season in his debut campaign for the Lions.

The duo played 32 times together last season.

Cooper told Millwall’s website: “I want to start by saying how sorry I feel for his family and his partner, Phoebe. You could see how united they were as a family and the love and stability that Phoebe gave to Matija.

“It was terribly tragic. You know a hole was left in their lives now which is heartbreaking to even think about for them.

“He came in and he made an impression on us straight away. 

“He fitted right into the dressing room and he felt like one of us straight from the beginning.

“We had a difficult season on the pitch at the beginning of last season and he had to stand up and show his strength of character at a lot of moments when we needed him – he did that.

“He was flourishing towards the end of last season and it was great to see him performing well.

“He’s been a great asset to the football club. For us boys in that dressing room, it’s been a privilege to share it with him.”

Cooper gave away a penalty in the final game of the season – a 1-0 win at Swansea – with Sarkic stopping Matt Grimes’ penalty to give the Lions all three points. 

“That’s probably going to be my last memory of him – sharing that moment away at Swansea,” added Cooper.

“He saved the penalty that I afflicted on the team and he was the hero in that moment.

“It’s a special moment to remember him by.

“We were all in the dressing room after. How much love he was getting after the game. 

“He was a pleasure to be around and I’m proud that I got the chance to work with him for a part of his short time in this world.

“He was a charming, charismatic young man who had so much more to offer everyone. 

“It’s sad we’re sat here talking about him in the way that we are and unfortunately we’re not telling him to his face. 

“He was so kind to everyone. Everyone has felt it at the club because he left that impact in the year he was here.”

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