Millwall manager Neil Harris revealed Lee Gregory pleaded with him to start their meeting with Sheffield United at The Den, despite being taken ill before kick-off.
The centre-forward, who hails from South Yorkshire and started his career in the visitors’ youth system, scored one and claimed an assist before being substituted towards the end of the 3-1 victory over Chris Wilder’s side.
Harris, whose mood post-match contrasted sharply with Wilder’s irate demeanour, said: “I took him off because he was ill before and also at half-time. He wanted to play, it was his hometown club.
"If you want to epitomise what this football club is all about, that second goal does it. Lee tracked back, made an aggressive tackle and then the pass to create it.”
Mahlon Romeo put Millwall back ahead after David Brooks had levelled, and Jake Cooper added a late header to compound Wilder's misery.
"We had a conundrum at half-time. Do we leave it as it is and hope that we get a back in the game and our 4-4-2 shape dictates play, or do we change it?" Harris added.
"We made a brave decision to change to a 3-5-2 to match them up, and you've got 10 minutes to do it and try and get messages to players.
"For the first 20 minutes and the second half, I thought we were outstanding.
"(Gregory's opener) was an excellent counter-attacking goal but for whatever reason, we just stepped off - we couldn't get the press high enough, couldn't get near the ball.
"They showed why they are in the top three in the division and rightly so; they got back on level terms.
"Then you put them out there and you say: 'okay you've got to learn yourselves. You're going to have to adjust what you do'. I thought the players were outstanding.
"They're never going to let me down on effort, determination, desire to play for this club, and there were some real moments of quality as well."