Top Boro Players
We take a look at the top 5 players in the current Middlesbrough FC squad.
MIDDLESBROUGH FOOTBALL CLUB – TOP PLAYERS
Formed in 1876, Middlesbrough FC, or "The Boro," were founding members of the Premiership in the 1992-93 season and have played at the Riverside Stadium since August 1995. Boro have spent only two seasons outside the top two tiers of English football. Following the controversial deduction of 3 points for failing to fulfil a fixture in 1996-97, Middlesbrough were relegated to the Championship. However, they regained Premiership status as Championship runners-up in 1997-98 and 2008-09 is their 11th consecutive season in the top flight.
Top 5 Players
Stewart Downing, considered one of the successes of the Middlesbrough Academy, is the club
s second-longest serving player. Left winger Downing made his debut for Middlesbrough in 2001-2002, but his first team opportunities were limited by the presence of Dutch international midfielder Bolo Zenden and made only 6 first-team appearances in his first two seasons, but did score in a 4-1 League Cup victory against Brentford in 2002-03. He was loaned to Sunderland in 2003-04, as an experience-gaining exercise, scoring 3 times from 7 appearances. On his return to the Riverside in 2004-05, Downing appeared 49 times, scoring 6 goals and providing numerous assists. His success was noted by Sven Goran Erikksson, who called him up for the England friendly against Holland in February 2005. Despite being sidelined for much of 2005, Downing returned to play a crucial role in Boros run to the 2005-06 UEFA Cup final, including 3 assists in the 4-2 semi-final win over Steaua Bucharest. Despite signing a 5-year contract in early 2008, theoretically keeping him at Middlesbrough until 2013, Downing has been a transfer target for several clubs. However, the 24 year-old evidently plays a major part in manager Gareth Southgate
s plans, with Downings recent written transfer request being turned down the same day.
Brazilian international striker Alves was signed for a club record fee (of approx. £12.7 million) in the January transfer window of 2007-08, from Dutch side SC Heerenveen. Having finished as second top scorer in the Dutch league (Eredivisie) for 2 consecutive seasons, Alves was top scorer in 2007, with 34 goals, including 7 in a 9-0 defeat of Heracles Almelo. In 35 appearances for Middlesbrough, Alves has had 12 successful strikes in 35 appearances, going some way to justifying his large transfer fee.
The versatile Tuncay Sanli was a shrewd signing for Middlesbrough, moving to the Riverside on a free transfer from Fenerbahce in June 2007. Renowned for his energy, flair and dribbling skills, he is effective on both wings, as an attacking or holding midfielder and as a striker. In 54 appearances fro Middlesbrough, he has scored 12 times from 54 appearances. His international record is also impressive, with 19 goals from 62 appearances for the Turkish national side. He also acted as an impromptu goalkeeper, following the dismissal of Volkan Demirel at Euro 2008.
A product of the French Clairefontaine Academy, Aliadiere was named, along with Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry, as one of the 3 best strikers from that academy in the preceding 10 years. Aliadiere signed for Arsenal at 16 and holds the record for the most goals scored in the FA Youth Cup. Following successful loan spells at Celtic, West Ham and Wolves, the 6ft versatile striker / winger signed for Middlesbrough in June 2007. Though not a prolific goalscorer, he has more than earned his keep, with 7 goals from 48 appearances.
Pogatetz is a regular Austrian international, having played 33 times, scoring twice. Pogatetz is equally comfortable at left or centre back, commanding these positions at both club and international level. He has received great praise for his commitment and was awarded the captaincy at the end of the 2007-08 season.
Despite the fact that Middlesbrough have no exactly set the world alight in the 2008-09 season, there is plenty is time left for recovery. Boro fans may wish to book a Middlesbrough hotel for the 28th February, when Liverpool visit the Riverside, as do Manchester United on 2nd May.