Downing makes Boro vow
Stewart Downing is confident he will return to Middlesbrough at some stage in his career.
By Richard Bailey
Last Updated: 17/07/09 1:25pm
Stewart Downing is confident he will return to home-town team Middlesbrough at some stage in his career.
The 24-year-old was granted a swift return to the Premier League when Aston Villa offered £12million for his services earlier this week.
The winger, who is still recovering from a broken foot, completed his switch when he passed a medical and penned a four-year contract at Villa Park on Thursday.
The move will come as no surprise to anyone associated with Boro after the England international handed in a transfer request in January, although that was rejected by the club.
Tottenham were reportedly keen on signing Downing but after talks with Villa boss Martin O'Neill the player's mind was made up although the player insists he has already spoken about returning to the club one day.
"One day I will be back, I would love to do that," he told the club's official website.
"In fact, I have already spoken to Steve Gibson (chairman) about it. I want to play at the top level and be with a club that can compete for European places but, if Boro get back to that, then who knows what might happen in the future.
"I'm a Boro fan and I want the club to do well. There are some really good players here and I'm sure they will be up there this season."
Meanwhile Boro boss Gareth Southgate has admitted that he resigned himself to losing Downing this summer even if Middlesbrough had managed to avoid the drop.
"We have felt for quite a while now that it was going to be very difficult to hang on to Stewart beyond the end of last season, whichever division we had been in," Southgate said.
"He had expressed a desire to move on and I am pleased for him he has got the move.
"It's a good deal for us and Aston Villa have got a player that Martin (O'Neill) had coveted for a while.
"We wish him well and I hope it works out for him."
However Southgate was unsure whether he would be allowed to use the bulk of the cash to bring in new recruits ahead of their assault on the Championship.
"I can't answer that, that's for Keith (Lamb, chief executive) and Steve (Gibson) to answer," he added.
"All I can say is it was a deal that was acceptable for us."
Southgate prepared himself for Downing's departure when he brought in winger Mark Yeates from Colchester earlier in the summer and along with fellow wide-man Adam Johnson the Boro boss is expecting them provide the spark this term.
"We have got a couple of good players in those two and we are going to need goals from those areas of the field - that was a big disappointment for us last year, that we didn't get that," he highlighted.
"For us to achieve what we want to this season, that's going to be crucial."