FOOTBALL WON MAHLON’S SOUL
Millwall defender lets Dad do music
MILLWALL right-back Mahlon Romeo is well stocked with musical genes, though he insists he was only ever going to become a footballer.
The 20-year-old’s dad is Trevor Romeo, aka Jazzie B, a music producer who had a No.1 hit, called Back To Life, with Soul II Soul in 1989. It’s an anthem that can still be heard in nightclubs around the country each week.
Jazzie B was made an OBE in 2008, having worked with internationally-renowned artists such as James Brown and also presents a weekly BBC radio show.
But it was football, rather than floor-fillers, that interested his son, Mahlon.
“I’ve always been a football head,” said the defender.
“My dad never pushed me into music or playing an instrument, or anything like that.
“I never saw him as being famous. He did his thing, but I can’t remember him ever being stopped and recognised. He is just my dad.
“He used to take me and my mum to Arsenal. He knew I loved football.”
Despite his tender years, Romeo has had to be relatively patient for his breakthrough.
Three years ago, he made his Football League debut for Gillingham, being thrown in from the start in the club’s final game of the 2012-13 season, a 3-2 defeat by Burton Albion.
On cloud nine throughout that summer, Romeo returned to Priestfield Stadium to find he was back in the youth team and did not line-up alongside his senior team-mates again.
“After my debut, I didn’t think I had [already] made it at Gillingham, but I thought I would be a lot more involved than I was,” Romeo added.
“No-one really said anything to me. I came back for pre-season and I was in the youth team, never to play again.
“It was frustrating, but that’s football. It works like that sometimes.”
A transfer to Millwall came along last summer, when the full Antigua & Barbuda international expected similar treatment.
But injuries to Shaun Cummings and Carlos Edwards led to Romeo being thrust into the firstteam picture for a daunting away trip to high-flying Walsall last month.
Fearless, he struck spectacularly in a 3-0 win and has not looked back.
“I’m buzzing with the way things are going. It couldn’t be better,” he added.
“My main goal at the start of the season was to be near the first team. I could never have expected to have played so many games.
“My debut couldn’t have gone better, and for the manager [Neil Harris] to say I scored one of the goals of the season was a massive compliment.
“It’s such a privilege to be playing for a club like Millwall and my goal now is to play as much as possible.”
Romeo has become a fullyfledged Lion at an exciting time for the South London club.
Pondering a relegation battle in the first weeks of the season, they went into the weekend fifth in the League One table – the highest position they have occupied.
It seems they have peaked at just the right time and Romeo is hopeful his dream campaign can have the ultimate finish.
“The goal is promotion,” he said. “Whether that’s play-offs or automatic, we’ll take anything, but I think we’re strong enough.
“We’ve got Lee Gregory and Steve Morison who have been unstoppable in front of goal, and their partnership is typical of what we have in the squad.
“No matter the gap in age or experience, everyone gets on with each other. There are no mini-groups. We’re one team.”
TUNED IN: Mahlon Romeo, seen here against of Doncaster Rovers’ Cedric Evina, has quickly hit it off with teammates at The Den MUSIC MAN: Jazzie B, and, inset, hit single Back To Life
EAGER: Peter Ramage