This selfless gesture from Stewart Downing helped his Middlesbrough teammate hit the goal trail

Stewart Downing's selfless gesture helped his Middlesbrough teammate
Stewart Downing's selfless gesture helped his Middlesbrough teammate

Stewart Downing has revealed how he passed penalty duties on to Middlesbrough striker Jordan Hugill - because he felt his teammate needed a goal.

With regular penalty takers Grant Leadbitter and Britt Assombalonga absent from the squad, responsibility looked set to fall to Downing after a foul on George Friend in the area.

But as the ex-Liverpool wideman stood with the ball in his arms, Hugill approached.

And in a selfless gesture, Downing allowed the West Ham United loanee to take the spot-kick in a bid to try and get the striker hitting the goal trail - admitting he was 'desperate' to see Hugill start to impress.

"Grant is the designated penalty taker and if he’s not playing it’s normally been Britt that’s stepped up and he wasn’t on the pitch either,” said Downing.

“I had the ball and I was looking around thinking: ‘Well, who’s going to hit this?’ I think Martin [Braithwaite] fancied it and I quite fancied it too.

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“I thought, ‘I’ll just get it and whack it in the net’, but then Jordan stepped forward and I thought: ‘You know what, Jordan needs a goal’.

“He was playing well and he wanted it. Fair play to him, he hadn’t scored for a while, but he was very confident and adamant he wanted to take it. And it was a great penalty.”

The penalty proved to be Hugill's first league goal for Boro, and he netted again only moments later as the side secured a 2-0 win over Wigan.

And Downing was delighted to see his teammate's hard work beginning to pay off after what has been a frustrating start to life at the Riverside Stadium for the 26-year-old.

Now, the Middlesbrough winger is hoping Hugill can consistently find the net.

“It was great for Jordan to get the goals, and I’m pleased for him,” added Downing.

“He’s worked hard and done all the other bits, he just needed a goal. That will give him loads of confidence.

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“He’s a Boro lad and a Boro fan and he was desperate to score. I’m pleased for him. He just needed a goal, everything else was alright.

“Game by game he’s got fitter and stronger. He’s missed a lot of football, you’re talking nearly ten months.

“It took the penalty to get him off the mark but the second was a great goal. If you’re in a bit of a rut, you can put that over the bar, your touch might not be right, but he looked confident and, bang! It went straight in the back of the net.

“Whoever plays, him or Britt, we need someone to get ten or 20 goals, that would be brilliant for us.”