Gibson thanks Boro for aiding him through adversity
- Credit: Tony Thrussell
Ben Gibson admits that moving back to boyhood club Middlesbrough would have been the easy option - but he does remain grateful to the club for helping him through the toughest spell in his career.
The defender joined the Canaries on loan from Premier League side Burnley after enduring a difficult two-year spell in the shadows at Turf Moor.
When Gibson was denied a move to Watford in January, he found himself not only without a new home, but also without a place to train.
Gibson turned to Middlesbrough where his name has become synonymous after such a successful spell at the Riverside Stadium.
“It’s been the strangest two years of my life, no getting away from that, although the last six months have been the strangest of everybody’s life to be honest, given the circumstances,” he said.
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“Middlesbrough have been fantastic. I grew up there, came through the academy, I’ve always been a Middlesbrough fan.
“It’s a fantastic football club. I see a lot of similarities here, in terms of it’s everything to the city, everyone cares for one club and it’s a family club so that’s why I think it fits well.”
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Gibson was heavily linked with a return to the club where he made over 200 appearances, with Boro reportedly one of numerous clubs keen on taking the 27-year-old prior to him joining City.
Explaining why he decided to seek a fresh challenge, he said: “Everyone at home just assumed that I would just go back to Middlesbrough, that would have been the easy thing to do, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do.
“I’m here to take on a challenge, I want to be a part of something special. I can’t wait now.
“I do have to thank Middlesbrough because, in the toughest time in my career, that time when I wasn’t training with Burnley, they were there for me.
“I’m in debt to them for what they did in that time. It might seem a bit silly for them now because I’m going to be playing against them, but I’ll be forever grateful to them for what they did.”
Gibson revealed in his first interview after joining the club that he spoke to a number of former City players before committing to the move.
One of those was Jonny Howson, who made 188 appearances during a five-year spell with the club, with the midfielder giving the club a glowing reference.
“I spoke to him last week,” said Gibson. “He’s a great guy. He’s a great one to speak to because he’s dead honest.
“He’s a Yorkshireman, he says it as it is. He was fantastic. He loved his time here and spoke really highly of his time at the club.
“He knew it had been developed in terms of the training facilities and the standards of everything over the last few years.
“He said, ‘I think it’s somewhere that you will love’. I’m someone who immerses myself in the culture of a place and the location as well as the club. My life revolves around the football.
“He was a really good person to speak to. I could sense the warmth when he spoke about Norwich. He was very positive about the place.”
City’s play-off final victory in 2015 was one of the most historic days in the club’s history. Gibson was on the losing side, and reveals how he was teased all summer by a former City winger.
“It’s funny you speak about that play-off final. What most people don’t know is that I was with England U21s then and we then went away to the European Championships and my room-mate was Nathan Redmond,” he explained.
“So not only was it a nightmare getting beat in the play-off final by Norwich, I then had it rubbed in my face every day for three weeks whilst he was dancing about our bedroom.
“It was a tough time for us but luckily we bounced back next season and got promoted. I’m hoping that’s what we can do with this club and this team this season.”