FORMER Leeds United centre-back Jonathan Woodgate is refusing to dwell on missed opportunities as he targets a return to the Barclays Premier League.
The 32-year-old defender has headed back to Middlesbrough in search of regular football after seeing a career which has taken him to some of the biggest clubs in Europe blighted by injuries.
Had Woodgate enjoyed better fortune, he would certainly have added more England caps to the eight he claimed.
However, despite the problems which sidelined him during his spells with Newcastle, Real Madrid and Spurs, he does not feel he has been robbed of his best days.
Woodgate said: “No. I have been lucky. I am a professional footballer who has played for some good teams and I am playing for Middlesbrough again, like any other young lad from Middlesbrough would want to do. I am lucky, that’s how I look at life. I’m a professional footballer.
“What can you do about it? You have just got to get on with it and come back fighting, be resolute and show that you can play again. It’s just one of those things, you have to cope with it mentally.”
Woodgate spent the summer mulling over his options before deciding to re-join home-town club Boro, where he enjoyed a successful first spell after initially joining on loan from Real during the summer of 2006.
Asked about his ambitions for the term of this three-year contract, he said: “Ambitions? Loads.
“I want to get Middlesbrough into the Premier League – that would be a great success – and I want to play as many games as I can for the club and be successful with Middlesbrough.”
Woodgate’s former Leeds team-mate Harry Kewell has been named Australia’s best-ever player.
The 33-year-old won a vote involving 15,000 fans and a panel of current and former players, administrators and commentators.
The Al-Hasawi family, new owners of Nottingham Forest, yesterday sacked manager Steve Cotterill. His assistant Rob Kelly will be the interim manager.