Amazed Aitor Karanka admits ‘nobody’ expected Stewart Downing to return to Middlesbrough

Stewart Downing has left West Ham United to head home to Middlesbrough, signing a four-year contract

Stewart Downing has left West Ham United to head home to Middlesbrough, signing a four-year contract

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Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is “excited” to start working with Stewart Downing after admitting nobody expected him to be returning home.

Downing, a product of the Boro Academy, completed his multi-million pound move from Premier League West Ham United to Boro, dropping down a division into the Championship.

The lure of returning home to the North East and helping Boro push for promotion this season was too much to resist for Downing.

He has signed a four-year deal, understood to be worth £30,000 a week, and the 30-year-old will join the club’s Marbella training camp today after completing a deal worth £5.5million initially, a figure that could rise to £7million if Boro are promoted.

His new manager has spoken of his delight after capturing Downing and beating Sunderland to his signature in the process.

Karanka said: “It’s an amazing signing for us. He’s more than just a player.

“Nobody expected him to come here, but he wants to be here, and is completely committed to the club and the team.

“He is a very good person and I’m excited to work with him.”

Downing made almost 250 appearances for Boro between 2001 and 2009.

Downing departed in 2009 for £12million to Aston Villa and two years later, he joined Liverpool for a whopping £20million. He joined West Ham in 2013 for £5million and made 69 Premier League appearances for the Hammers.

The forward, who boasts 35 England caps, has made almost 500 career appearances at the highest level, and has scored 50 goals.