Ex-Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing discusses Sunderland stint and how he wanted to stay longer
Ex-Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Liverpool, West Ham United and Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing has recently been discussing his early career.
Back in 2003, Downing went on a one-month loan to Championship Sunderland from local rivals Middlesbrough, who were then competing in the Premier League.
He scored three goals in seven matches for Mick McCarthy's Black Cats in an impressive stint at the Stadium of Light.
Speaking about the move and if it was a tricky situation crossing the North East divide at such a young age Downing had this to say on the Undr The Cosh Podcast with Jon Parkin and former Sunderland striker Chris Brown.
"I think because I was a young kid, I was unknown, I was in the reserves.
"I’d played a few times for the first-team but it [Sunderland] was sort of a stepping stone to get some experience and get some games and Mick [McCarthy] gave me that.
"He played me, he needed a left-winger, and it was just ideal but I don’t think there was anything [resentment from fans].”
Brown then interjected: “Julio [Arca] signed from Sunderland to Middlesbrough and is still a God in Sunderland, isn't he?
“[Jack] Colback went Sunderland to Newcastle.”
Downing added: “Grant Leadbitter’s done Sunderland to Middlesbrough twice and is still well thought of.
"I think as long as you go there and give your all and you perform like Grant and those lads they’ll go with it.
"I think maybe there’s a problem if it’s Sunderland-Newcastle but Middlesbrough to Sunderland is not as big as people probably make out.”
The former England international winger then revealed he wished he could have stayed longer at the Stadium of Light following the one-month loan deal.
"I was playing in the reserves at Middlesbrough in front of two men and his dog. Next week I’m playing in front of 30,000 at the Stadium of Light.
"I couldn’t believe it, it was probably more than what Middlesbrough were getting in the Premier League and I just got that buzz when you’re playing and scoring goals.
"The lads were great and Mick was great and I actually wanted to stay longer because I knew was going to go back to Middlesbrough and not play.”