As a boy, Tamer Hassan couldn't afford to watch his beloved Millwall play, even though The Den was only a stone's throw from his home.

So he and his mates would stand on a hill to watch the first half and then push open the unmanned gates after the break and watch the second half for free on the terraces.

Actor Hassan, 41, who starred in The Football Factory and Layer Cake, said: "It started for me when I was a kid. I grew up in New Cross and used to live next door to the stadium.

"When I was younger we couldn't afford to get in the ground. Four of us and my mum and dad lived in three rooms back in the day.

"We weren't poor. We always had food on the table and lots of love from mum and dad. We just couldn't afford the luxuries. To find money to go to football was out of the question.

"We all used to stand on Jew Boys Hill - if anybody's old enough to remember it - and slip in at half-time.

Hassan's hectic schedule prevents him from watching the Lions as much as he would like.

He starts filming a remake of Clash of the Titans alongside Liam Neeson in a few weeks.

Forthcoming projects include a part in London Boulevard alongside Ray Winstone and Kiera Knightley, as well a lead role in a six-part ITV drama called Identity.

Hassan said: "Watching a game of football down the New Den is still a day out and I'm still supporting them, and will get along whenever I can.

"I was at the FA Cup Final against Manchester United.

"Jeff Banks made the suits for the Millwall team. Inside was a silk lining with crests of both teams. I was lucky enough to get one of those suits."

Hassan was also given a cast-iron turnstile from the Old Den, which he keeps in a store cupboard at Greenwich Borough, the non-league club where he has been chairman for the last 13 years.

Hassan now regularly finds himself rubbing shoulders with football's glitterati.

He said: "I'm a big believer that you should support lower league clubs although most of us in the lower leagues also follow a Premier League club.

"Mine is Chelsea, and I have become good friends with John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Joe Cole, which makes it easier to get tickets.

"I met JT at the Football Factory premiere. My manager who, bless her, doesn't know anything about football, said, 'There's a fellow called John Terry who wants to say hello'. I was like, 'Bleeding hell, that's only the England captain'.

"I became friends with the Chelsea players when they had a few pre-season tours in Los Angeles. We would go out drinking together.

"You know what footballers are like. They all want to be actors, same as actors all want to be footballers."

Tamer Hassan's new film City Rats is out on DVD and Blu Ray now. For more information please visit www.cityrats.co.uk.