Top 5 Academy Grads
By Jack Cochrane
Monday 25 Mar 2019 10:25:00
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Who would be your top 5 graduates from the Boro Academy? As we are presently in an international break we thought we would pause and reflect on a youth system that has unearthed and nurtured so much young talent over the years. So many that have gone on to wear international colours at all levels. Boro fan and Staffordshire University student Jack Cochrane has made his top 5 Boro Academy selections do you agree with his picks?

5. Dael Fry- Making his debut at 17 years old against Preston at Deepdale was no easy feat, but Dael Fry made the position his own and won man of the match. Since then he has come on leaps and bounds featuring under Aitor Karanka, Garry Monk and Tony Pulis. He has represented England at every youth level and has even been called up to train with the senior national team.

4. Lee Cattermole- The 29 year-old Stockton born battler would probably have been higher up the list if he didn't play for Sunderland! (Only joking) Although he thoroughly deserves his place on this list. Also making his debut as a 17 year-old, this time against the Geordies! Aged 18 years and 47 days Cattermole became Boro's youngest ever captain in that famous game against Fulham. He then moved to Wigan before a return to the North East with Sunderland where he has been for almost nine years.

3. Ben Gibson- A true Boro lad through and through, and not just because his uncle owns the club! Gibbo has well and truly earned his cult hero status at Boro by wearing his heart on his sleeve, as well as the captains armband on numerous occasions! Gibson spent time at Plymouth, York and Tranmere before becoming a mainstay in the Boro side. He was an ever-present for Boro in the Premier League, and was probably the one shining light in an otherwise poor season. Thoroughly deserving of his England call up. Stayed at the Boro despite reported interest from elsewhere after relegation to try and help Boro. However with no promotion Gibson moved on to Burnley.

2. James Morrison- 46 games for Scotland shows why Morrison deserves his place on this list. Making his debut in January 2004 against Notts County in a 2-0 victory he showed promise straight away. He played in the UEFA cup final for Boro and also got sent off for wiping out Cristiano Ronaldo (It was brilliant I know). He then joined the Baggies where he was a Premier League mainstay Thoroughly deserving of the number two position on Boro's top academy graduates.

 1.  Stewart Downing- Lets be honest...who else? Making his debut in 2002 against Ipswich, Boro's most capped England player with 35 appearances for the national team is regarded by many as an icon on Teesside. Initially leaving Middlesbrough for Aston Villa, he then had stints at Liverpool and West Ham before the lure of Teesside proved too strong and he returned to the Boro signing a five year deal in 2015. He ended up a Boro boo boy back on Teesside at one point due to reported fallings out with then boss Aitor Karanka but under Garry Monk and now Tony Pulis, Downing is revitalised and playing easily the best football of his second spell on Teesside. It is fair to say that Downing is the finest Boro graduate to date.

But who knows, if this list is re-done in five years time who could be on here. Harry Chapman... Marcus Tavernier? Gibson taking the number one spot?

 




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