Middlesbrough’s Stewart Downing: West Ham, Sunderland not for me

Stewart Downing
Stewart Downing
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Stewart Downing says he has no regrets about leaving West Ham United and the Premiership and moving to Middlesbrough in the Championship.

Downing turned his back on West Ham in the summer as Boro pulled off something of a coup with a deal worth £5million.

He wanted me to be part of that playing as a number 10 or as a wide man

STEWART DOWNING

The 31-year-old had been a key man in a fine Hammers campaign last season under boss Sam Allardyce.

But the England international felt, following talks with new manager Slaven Bilic, felt he could be out of the picture at Upton Park.

Even after that, there was an opportunity he could stay in the Premiership with Sunderland, who made an approach to West Ham.

But Downing admits Middlesbrough was always going to be his chosen destination after speaking to Boro chairman Steve Gibson and manager Aitor Karanka.

“I’d spoken to the chairman and Aitor and they had good plans here and were looking to strengthen the team,” said Downing, who said he would rather be in a promotion-chasing Championship side than a mid-table or struggling Premier side.

“He wanted me to be part of that playing as a number 10 or as a wide man.

“For me, it was a very easy decision to make.

“The chairman asked if I was up for it and I said ‘if you can make the deal happen and you get me out of West Ham then I’m happy to come back’.

“I gave my word that if it happens then I’ll be straight back.

“Fair play to the chairman, he did it and got me back as quickly as he could.”

He added in an interview with BBC Tees: “Sunderland did make an offer to West Ham, but once I’d been given permission to speak to Middlesbrough, there was only one place I wanted to come.

“It was a challenge for me and I know some people questioned me coming to play in the Championship.

“I wanted something to play for and thought it was the perfect time to come home.”