STEWART Downing said he returned to Middlesbrough “to play for something” rather than risk mid-table mediocrity in the Premier League.
Downing has returned to the Riverside, signing a four year contract at his home town club.
I want to be where there is something to play for, to play for a good team, a good manager and a promotion push.
The England winger still had two seasons left on his deal at West Ham but following talks with new Hammers boss Slaven Bilic he felt he has no future at Upton Park.
He had the option of not only returning to the North East and stay in the richest division on the planet with Sunderland desperate to add his creativity to their squad plus other Premier clubs including Newcastle.
“I felt it was a good time to come back,” said the 31-year-old.
“I had two years left on my contract at West Ham but there was no talk of any extension.
“I had a good offer to come here and the security it would bring me.
“But there was the pull of my home town club and the plans the chairman had and the players he is looking to bring in, not that I’m going to tell you who they are!
“I want to be a part of this.
“I want to be where there is something to play for, to play for a good team, a good manager and a promotion push.
“The clubs in the Premier League (who showed interest) were no better than West Ham.
“It might be mid table football with nothing to play for.
“Sunderland were the first to make an offer to West Ham, but as soon as I spoke to Middlesbrough that faded away.
“No disrespect to Sunderland, I’ve been there on loan and had a good time there.
“But when I knew Boro wanted me there was only one place I wanted to come and (chairman) Steve Gibson is a very persuasive man.”