Middlesbrough star Downing hails greatest achievement
Stewart Downing dedicated Middlesbrough's promotion to chairman Steve Gibson.
Boro’s return to the Premier League after a seven-year absence has been inspired by the ambition, devotion and investment made by the local hero, who has been at the heart of the club for three decades.
Gibson was at the heart of Downing’s £5.5million move back to his hometown club last sumer and the former England winger hopes to have repaid Gibbo with this success.
“I’m so pleased for the chairman out of anyone because of the amount of money he has put in,” said Downing, who was a second-half sub in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Brighton which secured second place on goal difference above the Seagulls.
“He’s the sole factor why I came back here so nobody deserves it more than him.”
Downing has achieved much in his football career – at both club and international level.
But the gifted forward rates this promotion with his beloved Middlesbrough as his greatest moment.
When Downing decided last summer that his time at West Ham United was over, he rejected various Premier League overtures, including interest from Sunderland, in order to return to the Rivrside for a fee expected to grow to £7million following this promotion.
Many pundits raised their eyebrows at the 31-year-old dropping down to the Championship, but the Teessider had no doubts.
“This is the best moment in my career. I said the day I signed that if I came back and we got promoted that would be the best,” he said.
“To do this playing for my hometown club watched by my family and friends, there’s no better feeling.”
But he said the nerves were jangling on the eve of the ‘winner-takes-all’ clash with Chris Hughton’s side. “I didn’t sleep a wink, I got about an hour I think,” he smiled.