Matt Mills

Matthew Claude Mills is an English professional footballer who plays as a defender for League Two club Forest Green Rovers.
Born in Swindon, Mills started his youth career with the academy of Swindon Town before switching to the Southampton Academy in 1999. He turned professional in 2002 and had loan stints with Coventry City and Bournemouth during his time with Southampton. In 2006, he signed with Manchester City. However, his playing time was limited due to injuries. After loan deals with Colchester United and Doncaster Rovers, he signed permanently with the latter in 2008. After one season, Mills joined Reading for a fee believed to be around £2 million. In May 2011, he captained the club in the Championship play-off Final defeat against Swansea City, where he also found the net. After rejecting an offer from Wolverhampton Wanderers, he signed with Leicester City in the same year and was appointed as the club captain. In 2012, hee switched to Bolton Wanderers. He finished third in voting for the club's player of the 2014–15 season. He switched to rival Nottingham Forest in 2015. After having spent three seasons with Forest, Mills joined Barnsley.
Mills has been capped at the national youth level and featured eight times for the England under-19. His younger brother Joseph Mills also plays for Forest Green Rovers.

Club career


Born in Swindon, Wiltshire, Mills started his youth career at Swindon Town in 1999 before joining Southampton at the age of fourteen. Having progressed through the Southampton Academy, and then the reserves, Mills signed his first professional contract with the club in 2002. While at the academy, Mills initially played as a midfielder, but his playing position changed with the arrival of George Prost who was impressed with the way Mills "got on the ball and tried to dictate play" and switched him into a central–defence role, a position he plays today.
To gain first team experience, Mills was loaned out to Coventry City for one month on 18 September 2004. On the same day, Mills made his Coventry City debut, just hours after signing the paperwork for him to play later in the afternoon, in a 0–0 draw against Rotherham United. Mills' last appearance came on 3 October 2004 against Ipswich Town, where he scored an own goal, in a 2–1 loss. Mills then returned to his parent club and made four appearances. Coventry City sought to extend his loan period for a second month, but Southampton turned them down.
On 21 February 2005, Mills was loaned out again for a month joining Bournemouth. Mills made his Bournemouth debut the next day, making his first start and playing 90 minutes, in a 1–1 draw against Torquay United. He scored in the next game on 26 February 2005, in a 1–1 draw against Tranmere Rovers, followed up by scoring, in a 3–0 win over Swindon Town. Mills' performance and form at Bournemouth prompted the team to have his loan spell extended twice. In the last game of the season, Mills scored his third goal for the club, in a 4–2 loss against Bradford City. He made twelve appearances and scored three times during the season with Bournemouth Daily Echo writing that Mills' play "posted his nomination for the newcomer-of-the-year award".
After his loan spell at Bournemouth came to an end, Mills was among many youngsters to be in the first team squad ahead of the 2005–06 season. However, Mills remained out of the first team for almost half of the season until he finally made his Southampton debut, where he made his first start, in a 3–0 loss against Watford on 26 December 2005. After making three more appearances, Mills' future at Southampton was in doubt, as his contract was set to expire in the summer attracting interest from Manchester City.

Manchester City

Mills ultimately signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with Manchester City on 31 January 2006. There he linked up again with City reserve manager Steve Wigley, who had worked with him during his spell in charge of Southampton's Academy, an opportunity Mills said he could not turn down.
After suffering from an ankle injury while playing in the reserves, Mills made his Manchester City debut, where he came on as a substitute for Danny Mills in the 84th minutes, in a 2–0 loss against Chelsea on 25 March 2006. It was also his only appearance in the 2005–06 season.
At the start of the 2006–07 season, Mills suffered an ankle injury, but recovered and made his first appearance of the season, in a 4–0 win over Wigan Athletic on 21 October 2006. In order to gain first team football experience, it was announced on 26 January 2007 he joined Colchester United on a one–month loan. Mills made his Colchester United debut on 30 January 2007, where he made his first start, in a 1–0 win over Preston North End. Mills subsequently had his loan spell at Colchester United extended twice before returning in April, when he made nine appearances.

Doncaster Rovers

On 17 August 2007, Mills joined Doncaster Rovers on a six-month loan deal, linking up with manager Sean O'Driscoll for the second time in his career. Mills made his Doncaster Rovers debut on 25 August 2007, where he came on as a substitute in the 83rd minute for Gareth Roberts, in a 2–1 loss against Bournemouth. Mills then scored two goals in two matches between 29 September 2007 and 2 October 2007 against Cheltenham Town and Walsall. On 21 November 2007,
his loan deal was terminated and he was returned to his parent club for sustaining a knee injury.
However, he rejoined the South Yorkshire club on a loan deal for the rest of the season on 14 January 2018. He was part of the starting eleven which won promotion to the Championship, beating Leeds United at Wembley Stadium in the League One play-off Final in May 2008.
Mills expressed a desire to join Doncaster Rovers after winning promotion at Wembley, and was expected to sign in the close season. After two months of speculation about his future, and his move to Doncaster Rovers in doubt after a change of manager at Manchester City, he was eventually unveiled as Doncaster Rovers' record signing when he inked a three-year contract with Doncaster on 30 July 2008. Doncaster Rovers paid £300,000 for his services. In his first full season at Doncaster Rovers, Mills made 45 appearances in the 2008–09 season.
In the summer of 2009, Mills attracted the interest of a number of bigger clubs including Birmingham City and Newcastle United. However, on 10 June 2009 Nottingham Forest put in an offer of £2,000,000 for Mills which was rejected by Doncaster Rovers. A later offer from fellow Championship side Reading was accepted, however, and Mills left Doncaster in August 2009.


On 5 August 2009, Mills was officially unveiled as a Reading player, signing a three-year contract under manager Brendan Rodgers. The exact transfer fee was undisclosed, however it is believed to be somewhere in the region of £2 million.
Mills made his debut for Reading in a 0–0 draw against Swansea City on 18 August 2009. Four days later on 22 August 2009, Mills scored his first Reading goal, in a 3–1 loss against Sheffield United. His second goal came on 17 October 2009, in a 3–1 loss against West Brom. After Reading's 1–0 win in March 2010 against Queens Park Rangers, Mills was seen making an apparent obscene gesture to his own supporters, for which he apologised. Manager Brian McDermott attributed his gesturing to passion, saying that Mills' actions would not dampen the player's relationship with his supporters—describing Mills' form as "inspirational". Despite struggling with injuries and being sent–off twice, Mills appeared in 30 matches and scored two goals in all competitions for Reading during the 2009–10 season.
Mills started the 2010–11 season in goalscoring fashion, scoring twice in the League Cup 2nd Round 3–3 draw against Northampton Town, before scoring the winner in a 2–1 win away at Leicester City just three days later where he also made a last-ditch goal line clearance, ensuring the Man of the Match award. On 30 October 2010, Mills scored against his former club, Doncaster Rovers, in a 4–3 win. On 1 March 2011 Mills scored the winning goal against Everton in a 1–0 victory to take Reading through to the FA Cup Quarter-finals. After a surging run, Reading qualified for the playoffs. On 30 May 2011, in the Championship play-off Final against Swansea, Mills captained the Royals and scored a header from a corner kick on 57 minutes and got booked in their 4–2 defeat at Wembley Stadium. Despite a suspension and injury, Mills went on to make forty–five appearances and scoring six times in all competitions in the 2010–11 season.

Leicester City

On 7 July 2011, Mills signed a four-year contract with Leicester City for an undisclosed fee, and was later confirmed as club captain for the 2011–12 season, reuniting with his former Manchester City manager, Sven-Göran Eriksson. Mills had rejected an offer from Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers to join Leicester. Describing him as a "solid centre half," Ian Stringer of BBC Radio Leicester selected him as the club's key player for the 2011–12 season.
Mills made his league debut in a 1–0 win over Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena on 6 August 2011, On 16 October, Mills was sent off in the 55th minute of a 2–0 defeat at Birmingham City for a two-footed tackle on Morgaro Gomis, and he was sent off again six weeks later against Hull City for a professional foul on Aaron McLean. He scored his only goal for the club in a 2–0 win over Southampton at St Mary's Stadium on 24 January 2012.
In February 2012, reports surfaced of an alleged bust up with new manager Nigel Pearson, which Mills denied. He then lost the captaincy and was relegated to training with the club's youth academy. He did not travel for the 1–0 victory against Derby County on 23 February 2012, which prompted questions over his future at the club. Mills was later informed by phone that he was allowed to leave Leicester. But, despite being linked with league rivals Leeds United and West Ham United, Mills refused to leave on loan as it would have been "very disrespectful for the fans". Though this move away from the club did not materialise, he never played for Leicester again.

Bolton Wanderers

On 4 July 2012, Mills signed a three-year contract with Bolton Wanderers for an undisclosed fee. On joining the club, Mills said, "This deal has worked out perfectly for me, mainly because Bolton are a fantastic club. Speaking to the manager, I have got the vibe of what the place and club is about and the ambitions of getting back into the Premier League."
After being given the number four shirt for the new 2012–13 season, Mills made his debut for the club in a 2–0 home victory over Derby County on 21 August. He scored his first goal on 15 September, in a 2–1 win against Watford. He picked up an upper thigh injury which ruled him out of play for four to five months.
After returning from injury, Mills was unable to reclaim his starting position due to the form of Craig Dawson, Tim Ream and Zat Knight who had each occupied the centre-back position in his absence. On 2 April 2013 he made his first appearance for the club since his injury against Huddersfield Town on 8 December 2012 - coming on as a 90th-minute substitute for goalscorer Chris Eagles to ensure a 1–0 victory against Huddersfield Town.
In July 2013, after Mills was linked with a move to Leeds United to reunite with his former Reading manager Brian McDermott, Bolton manager Dougie Freedman confirmed that Leeds had made an inquiry about Mills' availability. Freedman stated that he would like Mills to stay at the club, but if Mills wanted to leave he would let him go provided the right offer came in.
Mills made his return to the first team in the second round of League Cup against Tranmere Rovers and was one of the two players to convert the penalty successfully, as Bolton Wanderers lost 4–2 in the penalty shoot-out after playing 120 minutes. Since making his return to the first team, Mills won his place back in the side and partnered either David Wheater or Tim Ream. Mills then scored his first Bolton Wanderers goal on 11 January 2014, in a 1–1 draw against Nottingham Forest. However, Mills was sidelined when he suffered a minor knee problem during a match against Watford on 22 February 2014. After being sidelined for a month, Mills made his first team return, where he assisted Jermaine Beckford to score the only goal in the game, in a 1–0 win over Barnsley on 12 April 2014. Mills later finished the 2013–14 season, making 35 appearances and scoring once in all competitions.
Ahead of the 2014–15 season, Mills was named as vice-captain to Jay Spearing. Mills scored his first Bolton Wanderers' goal on 23 August 2014, in a 2–1 loss against Brighton & Hove Albion and scored a month later, in a 2–1 loss against Chelsea in the second round of the League Cup. Mills scored the only goal in the game, in a 1–0 win over Birmingham City on 18 October 2014. After Spearing's injury, Mills played his first match as captain and scored in a 3–0 win over Cardiff City on 4 November 2014. Two months later on 27 January 2015, Mills scored and set up a goal for Liam Trotter, in a 4–2 loss against Rotherham United. After suffering an injury in January 2015, Mills made his return, only to be sent–off for a second bookable offence, in a 4–1 loss against Nottingham Forest. Despite this, he finished third with 17 percent behind Josh Vela and Ream in voting for Bolton's Player of the Season. Mills finished the 2014–15 season, making forty–one appearances and scoring five times in all competitions.
Despite being offered a new contract by Manager Neil Lennon, Mills was among the players released by the club in May 2015, which was explained as part of the club's cut costing measures.

Nottingham Forest

On 1 July 2015, Mills signed for Nottingham Forest as a free agent, re-uniting with former Bolton manager Dougie Freedman in the process. On joining the club, Mills was given the number five shirt ahead of the new season. Mills made his Nottingham Forest debut in the opening game of the season, in a 1–0 loss against Brighton & Hove Albion. Mills then captained his first match as a Nottingham Forest player, following Henri Lansbury's injury, on 29 August 2015, in a 2–1 loss against Cardiff City. Following his debut, Mills started each of Forest's first eight matches of the season, scoring twice, before an injury sustained shortly after equalizing against Middlesbrough on 19 September forced him to miss Forest's next away match Huddersfield.
Mills returned to the starting eleven in Forest's next game at home to Hull City on 3 October. However, with Forest trailing 1–0 after an Abel Hernández goal, Mills received a straight red card from referee Nigel Miller in the 87th minute of the game following an aerial challenge with Hull's on-loan Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom. Forest lost the game 1–0. On 5 December 2015, Mills scored twice in a 3–0 defeat of Fulham, with a third headed effort in injury time hitting the crossbar. Having played an integral role in an unbeaten December for Forest, Mills was nominated for the SkyBet Championship Player of the Month Award on 7 January 2016. Five days later on 12 January 2016, just after the announcement, he scored his fifth goal of the season, in a 1–1 draw against Birmingham City. Mills finished the season having made forty-two appearances and scoring five times in the league.
Mills made his first appearance of the 2016–17 season in Forest's opening match—a 4–3 defeat of Burton Albion under the new management of Philippe Montanier. In September, he scored his first goal of the season in a 2–2 draw against Rotherham United. One month later, he was red-carded in a 3–1 defeat against Newcastle United. Manager Montanier said that the fourth official had exaggerated the decision. After the departure of Montanier, and the sale of regular captain Henri Lansbury, Mills was installed as captain by caretaker manager Gary Brazil. However, Mills only lasted fifty-five minutes in Brazil's first game, being substituted after a groin injury that was later reported would sideline him for two months.
On 31 January 2018, Mills terminated his contract with the club by mutual agreement.


On 31 January 2018, Mills signed with Barnsley for the remainder of the season. Three days later, he made his debut in a 1–0 defeat against Queens Park Rangers. He was released by Barnsley at the end of the 2017–18 season.

Pune City

On 21 August 2018, Mills joined Indian Super League club Pune City.

Forest Green Rovers

On 31 May 2019, League Two club Forest Green Rovers announced that they had signed Mills as a player-coach in advance of the 2019-20 season.

International career

Mills was called–up by the England under-19 level and helped the side qualify for the European Under-19 Championship in March 2005. Mills helped the national side to the final, which they lost to the France under-19s. He made a total of eight appearances for the team between 2004 and 2005.

Career statistics

Personal life

Born in Swindon, England, Mills and his family lived just 10 minutes from the County Ground until he left when he was 14. Mills went to school at Bradon Forest Secondary School in Purton, Wiltshire.
Mills' youngest brother, Joseph, was a trainee at Southampton. He now plays for Forest Green Rovers, where he was joined by Matt in May 2019. His other brothers, Jon-Paul and Jamie both play for Hellenic Football League side Witney United.
The former Hollyoaks and Prisoners' Wives actress Emma Rigby was formerly Mills' girlfriend. In 2014, he married Jade Elliott, daughter of former Leicester City and Scotland defender Matt Elliott and together they have two daughters, Lyla and Aria.

Style of play

The football pundit and former Leicester City player Steve Claridge described Mills' style of play as that of "an old-fashioned centre-half who relishes the physical side of the game".


Doncaster Rovers