With an Aston Villa v Boro double-header approaching, I thought I would look at some of the players who have signed for Boro from Villa. It was revealed earlier in the summer that Boro have signed more players from Aston Villa than any other club in the last 25 years. I have picked my three best and three worst of those signings.
Three of the Best:
Gareth Southgate (2001)
The man who wouldn’t dare show his face in Pizza Hut might have looked like he was winding down his career when he joined Middlesbrough in Steve McClaren’s first season. But at 31, he was imperious in his first season and was voted player of the season.
He soon became club captain, and lead the club to their first ever major silverware in 2004. He also lead us to the UEFA Cup Final in 2006 before hanging up his boots having made 190 appearances.
He was appointed manager the following season, but despite a couple of decent mid-table finishes in his first two seasons, his third season ended in relegation to the Championship.
He was sacked early the following season despite sitting close to the top of the table, but will always be remembered as one of the best players of the Riverside era.
Ugo Ehiogu (2000)
The late, great defender was a bit inconsistent when he first joined Boro and I remember him getting quite a bit of stick from the fans. But when his former Villa defensive partner Southgate joined him the following season, he went from strength to strength.
He made 144 appearances for Boro before moving to Rangers in 2007 and was part of the team that won the 2004 League Cup Final. Injury problems limited his appearances in the last couple of seasons, but he is still fondly remembered by Boro fans.
Following his sudden death earlier this year, fans paid a moving tribute to Ugo in the 44th minute of the Bournemouth away game.
George Boateng (2002)
All three of the best signings from Villa played together at Villa Park and were soon reunited at Boro. Boateng was a low key signing of the McClaren era, but went on to be one of the most important.
He was the rock at the heart of our midfield for 6 years during which Boro won the League Cup and reached the final of the UEFA Cup. He played a key role in both, and must surely be seen as one of the best value buys of the Riverside era.
Three of the Worst:
Alan Wright (2003)
He was only signed to cover for Franck Queudrue’s suspension at the beginning of the 2003-2004 season and it’s safe to say it did not go well. He played two matches for us – Boro lost both games and conceded 7 goals in the process.
My one memory of him was the ball sailing over his head to allow Arsenal to run in another goal in a 4-0 decimation at The Riverside.
He went out on loan just a couple of months after joining, and soon left permanently. When I was trying to remember all the players who had signed from Aston Villa, I couldn’t even remember his name!
Isaiah Osbourne (2009)
Signed by Gordon Strachan, even he didn’t sound convinced by Osbourne: “He’s not a flair player, he’s what I would call a continuity player, but he will also give us strength, height and get about the pitch” he said at the time.
The only continuity he offered was extending Strachan’s miserable start. He played 9 games, of which Boro only won 2, and left without making much impact.
Brad Guzan (2016)
This one might seem a little harsh, seeing as Guzan is an experienced keeper who had some good games.
But at the time he was signed, it just seemed a little pointless. We already had Champions League winning Victor Valdes, fan favourite Dimi and even Tomas Mejias as a last resort.
In his first league appearance, he allowed a soft goal for Sunderland and made another mistake shortly after which should have lead to a goal.
Every time he played, my heart was in my mouth. He only stayed one season, making 14 appearances and conceding 23 goals.
Here’s the list in full:
- Rudy Gestede – Signed January 2017 (useful squad player whose stock has risen in the Championship)
- Adama Traore – Signed August 2016 (frustrating winger who might finally be living up to the hype)
- Brad Guzan – Signed July 2016
- Shay Given – Signed November 2013 (Legendary loan keeper who fans were desperate to re-sign)
- Isaiah Osbourne – Signed November 2009
- George Boateng – Signed August 2002
- Gareth Southgate – Signed July 2001
- Ugo Ehiogu – Signed October 2000
- Andy Townsend – Signed September 1997 (solid captain who helped us to promotion and league cup final)
- Neil Cox – Signed July 1994 (first million pound signing, solid right-back during early Robson years)