Middlesbrough defender George Friend says the whole of Teesside will have played its part if his club secure promotion to the Premier League with victory over Norwich in Monday’s Wembley play-off final.
Friend has made a point of immersing himself in local life since arriving from Doncaster two years ago and insists the support across the town has been a crucial factor in the club’s re-emergence under Aitor Karanka.
Boro were narrowly pipped for one of the two automatic promotion places, but their comprehensive play-off semi-final win over Brentford suggests they are rediscovering top form at the right time.
Friend said: “When I joined everything indicated that this is a Premier League club and, having lived on Teesside, I know it would mean so much to everybody.
“It is a fantastic place to live, there are great people around here and it would mean everyone getting promoted – not just those people involved with the club.”
Despite doing the double over the Canaries in the Championship this season, Karanka’s men will start as slight underdogs to opponents who have been revitalised under new boss Alex Neil.
But Friend insists promotion would be a tremendous reward for the Spaniard, who despite his wealth of experience in the game will be making his first trip to Wembley.
Friend added: “His preparation is meticulous, he is very experienced as a player and he has worked with the best manager in the world.
“He is a good man-manager and he has brought a lot to the team and to individuals, and for me personally he has brought me on leaps and bounds.
“He said to us he has never been to Wembley before so let’s hope it’s a successful first time for him.”
Officials at Wembley Stadium have apologised for spelling Boro’s name wrong on the tickets.
A misprint saw Middlesbrough spelt “Middlesborough” on tickets for their game against Norwich on Bank Holiday Monday.
A Wembley Stadium spokesman apologised, saying: “It was a human error”.
Former Boro midfielder Barry Robson has signed a one-year contract extension that will see him remain at Aberdeen until the end of next season.
The 36-year-old-former Celtic midfielder, who signed from Sheffield United two years ago, said: “I feel as fit as I ever have done and I feel I will have plenty to offer next season.”