Stewart Downing explains why he snubbed Sunderland for Middlesbrough

Stewart Downing.
Stewart Downing.
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Stewart Downing has explained his reasons behind snubbing Sunderland to drop out of the Premier League and return to boyhood club Middlesbrough.

Downing is on the verge of being unveiled by Boro after the Championship outfit have splashed out around £7million to take the 30-year-old back to the Riverside.

Sunderland saw a bid rejected by the Hammers earlier this month after Downing had been targeted by Black Cats boss Dick Advocaat.

But Downing had his heart set on an emotional return to Boro, where he has penned a big-money deal to help the Teessiders return to the Premier League.

On the Premier League interest in him, Downing said: “They weren’t offering me anything different in terms of a challenge to West Ham.

“If I stayed at West Ham, the aim would be to try to push into the top half of the table.

“Last season went pretty well for the club and we finished 12th, next season the aim will be to improve on that.

“Had I gone to another Premier League club from West Ham, the targets would be similar, but at Boro there’s a chance to achieve something really special.

“This is probably the last move I’ll make in football so I want to try something I’ve never done before.

“It’s a great opportunity to help get the club back into the Premier League where they belong.”