BRAZILIAN legend Juninho will return to the Riverside for one last outing in a Boro shirt.
The 38-year-old has been invited back to feature in the club’s pre-season friendly against Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven on July 29. The gesture is seen as a way for Juninho to bid farewell to the fans who worshipped him during three spells at the club.
Manager Tony Mowbray said: “The match is a farewell and also an appreciation of what he brought to the town and the team.
“The wee man’s happy to come and do that. I think he’s got an affection for Teesside, the people of Teesside and of his time here.
“I think his personality was quite endearing. People from Teesside liked the fact that he could communicate with them in his own way and he adapted to life on Teesside.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our fans to pay tribute to one of the most famous players in our history.
“They never had the chance to give Juninho a proper send-off when he left for the last time and I know much how they will welcome the chance to show their appreciation for everything he did for the club.
“The PSV game is an important friendly for us and one we are taking very seriously, and Juninho will play at some stage.”
Juninho helped Boro reach the FA Cup and Coca-Cola Cup finals in 1997 before leaving for Atletico Madrid following relegation from the Premier League. He returned on a short-term contract in 1999-2000 before making a permanent return under Steve McClaren in 2003.
After leaving Middlesbrough for a third time, he enjoyed a short spell with Celtic before returning to Brazil following a spell in Australia with Sydney FC.
Meanwhile, Mowbray and Boro continue their pre-season preparations at Darlington tomorrow afternoon (kick off 3pm).
They will be without goalkeeper Jason Steele who has undergone surgery on a broken arm. But Mowbray says the operation was a success.
“Jason’s surgery seems to have gone according to plan,” he said.
“The surgeons had to insert a pin into the damaged area but I understand that the overall prognosis is good. If the injury heals as expected, Jason could be back in training in eight weeks.”