MIDDLESBROUGH defender Ben Gibson admits he’s fulfilled his boyhood dream playing for the team he grew up loving and supporting.
In an exclusive interview with Tside, Gibson talks his about his whirlwind year in the first team, Aitor Karanka and playing for the England under 21’s.
Gibson got a taste of football league action with impressive loan spells at York City, Plymouth Argyle and Tranmere Rovers before breaking into the first team last year.
Gibson said that his loan spells played a major part in earning a place at Boro:
He said: “The loan spells helped me speed up my development so it has been a brilliant year.
“Along with signing a five-year contract and being able to play for my country, it has been fantastic.
“I need to nail down a place at centre-half now. I was unlucky that I tore my hamstring in the first game of the season.
“But that’s football. I’m back fit again now and I need to win my place back in the team.”
Middlesbrough’s Young Player of the Year for the 2012/2013 season was a vital part of a sturdy defence under Aitor Karanka making 33 first team appearances.
The 21-year-old centre back admitted playing under the current boss brings the best out of him as a player.
“He is a good guy and a good manager. He expects really high standards and for us to perform the best we can.
“But that’s how it should be and that’s how I like it to be. We should be doing that as players and we should command respect off each other.
Gibson added that he is being cautious about the team’s chances of promotion saying: “We are just taking it game by game.
“We go into every game thinking if we playing our game, we can get three points.
“That’s the way we should look at it. Keep ticking the games off, try and win in every game and we should be up there in May.”
Gibson also spoke of his delight playing for the England under 21’s admitting: “You can’t put into words what it is like to play for your country.
“It’s such a proud occasion for me and my family. When your singing the national anthem there is no better feeling.
Former Middlesbrough defender and captain Gareth Southgate is current manager of the Under 21’s and he admitted he talks frequently to his boss about his playing days.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations about him being here at the club.
“I was a fan here growing up and watching him and he was my idol. He was number 6 and what I wanted to be like. So it’s brilliant to play under him and learn from him.”
After a hectic year for Chairman’s nephew, Gibson added there are more ambitions he wants to achieve.
“Hopefully this time next year we will be a Premier League team and hopefully I will have had a good summer with the Under 21’s.
“We’ve got a lot to look forward to but it is up to us to make it happen so fingers crossed this time next year we will be in the Premiership.”