Despite being a “small town in Europe”, Middlesbrough has been put firmly on the map through a series of major coups.
So, lets take a look through some of the most decorated players to play for the Boro.
A hero of England’s sole World Cup win in 1966 and a European Champion with Manchester United, the iconic Nobby Stiles opted to join second division Boro for £20,000 and went on to make 69 appearances for the club.
Another ex-Manchester United great, Captain Marvel joined Boro in 1994 as a player/manager and guided the club to the Championship title that very season. After hanging up his boots, Robson focused on management and was undeniably the catalyst for attracting many of the players on this list.
The arrival of World Cup winning Samba superstar sent pulses racing initially, but despite the excitement and intrigue it became abundantly clear that the one time great was past his sell by date. After a brief stay, Branco headed off to the USA to sign for the Metrostars.
Having scored a goal in the Juventus win over Ajax in the Champions League the season before, shockwaves rippled through Europe when two time Scudetto winner Ravanelli swapped Turin for Teesside. Another piece in the Robson Revolution, Ravanelli introduced himself to the Riverside faithful with a stunning hat-trick against Liverpool. Fights with teammates, cup finals and goals all followed, it was certainly never dull with The White Feather.
Undoubtedly the greatest ever Boro player. Much like Ravanelli, Europe was in shock when the South American Player of the Year went to Teesside from Sao Paulo. Pace, trickery and an eye for a pass, Juninho lit up the Riverside with his dazzling displays. Three more spells at Boro followed over a decade but he went on to win the World Cup, Confederations Cup, Copa Libertadores, Campeonato Brasileiro Série A as well as finally clinching the League Cup with Boro.
Teesside was once again gripped with excitement, Adriana Sklenaříková (and her World Cup, Euro 2000 and two-time Champions League winning boyfriend Karembeu) transferred to the North East from Real Madrid.
The dreadlocked French international had an eye for the spectacular but in truth, his best days were once again firmly behind him.
Much fanfare was made when Spanish international Mendieta signed on loan for Middlesbrough, many could hardly believe one of the best midfielders of the late 90s had ended up in Middlesbrough. Lazio had shelled out an eye-watering £30m for Mendieta only two seasons before after Juan Sebastian Veron had left for Manchester United.
A Copa del Rey winner and Valencia’s captain to two Champions League finals, Mendieta struck up an almost telepathic relationship with Juninho. A wonderfully intelligent player whose Boro highlights included a League Cup win and a stunning role in Middlesbrough’s 4-1 destruction of Manchester United.
Christian Ziege’s career had fallen on hard times at AC Milan. A two-time Bundesliga and UEFA Cup winner with Bayern Munich, his transfer to Middlesbrough caught many people off guard and soon Boro were reaping the rewards.
The attacking left wing back became renowned for his crossing and dead ball prowess, his form even earned himself a recall back into the German national team. His time at Boro ended under a cloud with a rather dubious and underhanded move to Liverpool, Gibson and Lamb launched a legal case and won after Ziege and Liverpool broke contract in order to force a transfer to Anfield.
Another highly decorated full back for the list. The Dutch international was a mainstay for both Ajax and Barcelona in the 90s and 00s winning along the way a Champions League, UEFA Cup, two Eredivisie titles and two La Liga titles.
His time at the Riverside was hampered by injuries and he transferred back his native Holland, signing for PSV Eindhoven where he won another Eredivisie title.
The most recent addition to the list, Victor Valdes signing for newly promoted Middlesbrough was still something of a coup despite his wilderness years under Louis van Gaal at Manchester United. Six La Liga titles, three Champions League medals, two Copa del Reys and a World Cup winners medal to name the highlights in his trophy cabinet. Valdes was a key component in one of the greatest teams Europe has ever seen as Barcelona swept all before them.
After a slow start at Boro, Valdes is beginning to look like one of the signings of the season behind one of the best defences in the league. Heroic performances away at Arsenal and Man City have further highlighted his enduring quality.
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