John Berylson was ‘one heck of a human being’ who transformed Millwall on and off the pitch, says former player who pays touching tribute

One of football’s genuine good guys left us as Millwall chairman and owner John Berylson passed away on Tuesday aged 70.

Berylson, who was loved hugely everyone connected with the club, passed away on Tuesday morning in a ‘tragic accident’. He is survived by his wife Amy and three children Jennifer, James and Elizabeth.


The Championship club announced the heartbreaking news on Tuesday nightCredit: Getty

The American businessman first became involved with Millwall in 2006, before becoming chairman a year later and assuming full ownership.

He has presided over a successful period in the club’s history, with the Lions becoming a Championship mainstay, narrowly missing out on the play-offs with an eighth-placed finish last season.

Supporters who wish to pay their respects can sign a book of condolence, which will will open at The Den at 11am on Wednesday.

A statement from Millwall read: “It is with a collective broken heart and the deepest of regret that we announce the passing of our beloved owner and chairman, John Berylson.

Many tributes have come pouring in for Berylson


Many tributes have come pouring in for BerylsonCredit: Getty

“John, who turned 70 last month, lost his life in a tragic accident on Tuesday morning, and the thoughts of everyone at the club are with his wife, Amy, his three children, Jennifer, James, and Elizabeth, and the rest of the Berylson family.

“John’s sudden and tragic passing will unquestionably impact all those who were fortunate to have known him. He was a truly great man, incredibly devoted to his family, and a person of such remarkable generosity, warmth, and kindness. He lived a storied life, one full of colour and joy, and was infinitely thoughtful of others with an endless desire to share his immense knowledge and experiences to help people.

“Under John’s passionate leadership and guidance, Millwall Football Club has enjoyed tremendous success and stability. Since first becoming involved in the club in 2006, he has presided over some of the greatest moments in Millwall’s history, and his influence in providing the platform for those was immeasurable. John continued to speak eagerly about the new season and his vision for the future, and any success moving forward will be in his memory and honour. It will be his legacy.

“John revelled in the club’s underdog status and mentality. He related strongly to such values and identity and adored Millwall supporters. He was fiercely loyal to all his staff, and both they and the fan base will miss him beyond measure.

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“For those who wish to pay their respects, a book of condolence, which will be shared with the Berylson family, will be opened at The Den from 11am on Wednesday 5th July. Those who cannot make it in person to The Den will be able to sign an online book of condolence, which will be available on in due course.

“Rest in peace, John, and thank you. You were loved and adored.”

Former Millwall man Steve Morison then paid a beautiful tribute to Berylson


Former Millwall man Steve Morison then paid a beautiful tribute to BerylsonCredit: Getty

Reacting to the heartbreaking news, former Lions striker Steve Morison told talkSPORT: “I don’t believe it, I can’t quite get my head around it.

“Everything in that statement is spot on. He’s someone who gave me my chance, as well as the manager, but off the back of it the stuff he’s done for me off the pitch is been that one person within football who’s always been constant and positive, who’s got my back.

“I just can’t believe it. Anyone who knows him won’t have a bad word to say about him. One heck of a human being.”

You could argue Berylson worked miracles at The Den. During his stewardship the club with perhaps the most vicious reputation in the country won the Family Club of the Year award multiple times.

And in an age where there’s always a degree scepticism about an owner’s true intentions with a football club, Morison shed wonderful insight into what Berylson sensibly ran things and always had time for anyone.

Morison said: “He’s shown the rest of the Championship how to run a football club, they’re the most stable club in the Championship bar a couple. He just runs it so fantastically.

Millwall were relegated to League One under Berylson but they came back up and have become a stable Championship club in the six years since getting promoted


Millwall were relegated to League One under Berylson but they came back up and have become a stable Championship club in the six years since getting promotedCredit: Getty

“It’s going to hit so many people at the club. He’s not an owner or chairman that you don’t see or speak to, he’s there, he goes round and sees everybody.

“The promotion final we won, he was there in the dressing room after and not because it was odd but because it’s how he was with us.

“Whenever he was at a game to watch it he’d come in the dressing room. He knew everyone’s family, he knew everyone’s kids. He was a personable person, he was someone that you had so much time for.

“His wife and his kids were fantastic as well.”

Morison added: “It’s just a great football club to be a part of and I tell you what one man sat at the top of that.

“Look how he sticks by his managers… if it’s not going well he’ll pick up the phone to speak to them and say, ‘what do we need to do to make it better?’

“He’s left a legacy at that football club and there isn’t a person who’s walked through that door, played for the football club who doesn’t owe a hell of a lot to John because there’s things that people don’t know about that football club that he does.

“When I retired, he was the person I called. I asked him if it was okay if I retire and he said, ‘yeah, do what you need to do. I’ll look after you.’
“The things he did for me. At Leeds I was struggling to get a game. He told me to come back and play for Millwall and that he’d sort it out.

“I lose my job, who’s the first person who picks the phone up? John Berylson.

“Who do I pick the phone up to now? That’s the question I’ve got to ask myself.”

Morison continued: “He genuinely did care and he loved the football club. Even the people he had around him – the directors, the other people that worked with him… they’re such good people.

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“When you leave the football club, you see them and bump into them on holiday or at a match and it’s like you’ve never been away.

“It’s one big family. It’s going to be one hell of a loss for the football club.”

John Berylson 1953-2023


John Berylson 1953-2023Credit: Getty

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