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Stewart Downing (born 22 July 1984) is an Englishmarker football who plays for Aston Villa in the English Premier League, having joined from Middlesbrough in July 2009. He often also features in the England team.

Club career

Middlesbrough

Downing grew up in Middlesbroughmarker's Pallistermarker estate and supported the club since his school days. He was considered one of the most promising graduates of the Middlesbrough Academy.

His debut came on 24 April 2002 in a Premier League game away at Ipswich Town. He was limited to just three appearances during that season, plus a further three the following season despite scoring his first senior goal in a 4–1 League Cup victory over Brentford. He was sent out on loan to Sunderland in 2003 in order to gain experience. His first-team chances at Middlesbrough were limited due to the form of Bolo Zenden in the left-midfield slot. Downing's career began to take-off when he was recalled from his loan during an injury crisis and was pushed into the first-team.The 2004–05 season saw Downing make forty-nine appearances, scoring six goals, as well as providing numerous assists. His performances that season saw him called up to Sven Göran Eriksson's England squad in February 2005 for a friendly against the the Netherlands.

A knee injury saw Downing sidelined for five months at the end of 2005, though he returned to play his part in the run to the 2006 UEFA Cup Final, including three assists in the 4–2 (4–3 agg) victory over Steaua Bucharest in the semi-final second leg.

On 26 February 2008, Downing signed a new five-year contract, keeping him signed on at Middlesbrough until 2013.

With the departure of Mark Schwarzer in May 2008, Downing became Middlesbrough's second longest serving player after Brad Jones.

The 2008-09 season was a mixed one for Downing. Middlesbrough had their best start to the season in six years which saw them climb to 8th in the table, however, a terrible winless run which started in November 2008 saw them fall into the relegation zone. On the 5 January 2009, he handed in a written transfer request expressing his desire to leave the club but the request was turned down on the same day. In the penultimate match of the season, he sustained a foot injury after a challenge from Stilian Petrov in a home game against Aston Villa in May, which needed an operation, ruling him out for at least four months. After spending the whole of the second half of the season in the relegation zone, Middlesbrough were relegated on the final day after they lost 2-1 away at West Ham. Downing, having started every league game, except the last match, ended the season with no league goals, having only scored two against West Ham in the FA Cup.

Aston Villa

Following Middlesbrough's relegation, Downing signed a four year contract with , becoming Martin O'Neill's first signing of the 2009 Summer transfer window for a fee of £10m with an extra £2m to be paid depending on appearances. On November 7 2009, O'Neill announced on avfc.co.uk that Downing had returned to full training following his injury against Villa while playing for Middlesbrough during 2008-09.Downing made his Aston Villa début coming on as a 69th minute substitute for Steve Sidwell in the away game versus Burnley F.C. He scored his first goal for Villa in the Carling Cup against Portsmouth on 1 December 2009.

International career

Downing was first called up as a 19-year-old for the 2003 UEFA European U-19 Championship. With seven Under-21 caps to his credit, Downing made his England debut on 9 February 2005 in a home friendly, played at Villa Parkmarker against the Netherlands, replacing Shaun Wright-Phillips in the second half.

Downing's international career took a setback in May 2005 when he was injured training with England on their tour of the USA, keeping him out of the game until 2006.

Downing was included in the England World Cup squad in May 2006 by Sven-Göran Eriksson,, primarily as a back-up for Joe Cole, and came on as a second half substitute in England's victorious opening game against Paraguay. He was brought on once again in the match against Trinidad and Tobago, when England scored two goals in the last ten minutes.

On 16 August 2006 Downing made his first start for England, as Greece were beaten by 4–0, with Downing involved in three of the goals. He started the subsequent three Euro 2008 qualifiers, against Andorra and the Republic of Macedonia. His performances drew criticism from the press, with many stating that Downing was only being selected due to his friendship with manager Steve McClaren. However Downing hopes to have proven many of his critics wrong after Fabio Capello became the third successive England manager to give him an England cap, on 26 March 2008 in a 1–0 friendly defeat to France. He was also called up (alongside Middlesbrough teammate David Wheater) for Capello's friendlies against the USA and Trinidad and Tobago where he received the nod ahead of Ashley Young. His performance justified his selection by contributing with the first two goals and won praise from the press who had previously slated his inclusion in the squad. A few months after Capello took charge of England, the Italian boss stated that he had been most impressed by Downing.

Career statistics

Club Performance
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals
Aston Villa F.C. 2009-10 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 1
Middlesbrough F.C.
2008-09 37 0 5 2 1 0 0 0 42 2
2007-08 38 9 5 1 2 0 0 0 44 10
2006-07 34 2 8 0 0 0 0 0 42 2
2005-06 12 1 5 0 0 0 9 0 26 1
2004-05 35 5 2 0 2 0 9 1 48 6
Sunderland 2003-04 7 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 3
Middlesbrough F.C. 2003-04 20 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 24 0
2002-03 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 3 1
2001-02 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
Total 188 20 27 3 8 1 18 1 241 25


Personal life

Dowing has been involved in several charitable and community projects outside his playing career. He supports the nationwide No Messin' campaign, warning youngsters against playing on railway lines, along with Freestyler Colin Nell and boxer Amir Khan. Downing held a charity dinner with special guest boxer Ricky Hatton to raise funds for the Royal Victoria Infirmarymarker in Newcastle Upon Tynemarker in February 2008. The hospital had cared for Vicky, Stewart's sister, who died of leukaemia in 1993 at the age of 4. The honorary position of president of Middlesbrough Futsal Club was bestowed on Downing in December 2007.

During his spare time Downing has DJ-ed at several nightclubs in Middlesbrough.

Controversy

Downing's former agent Ian Elliott was arrested by Cleveland Police on 3 September 2008 after he was reported to the police by the player himself after he had concerns "regarding the way his and his company's affairs [had] been handled". He told Middlesbrough about his concerns some time earlier and the club advised him to involve lawyers and accountants to investigate, while The FA acted as liaison between the police and the club.

Downing has received criticism from both outsiders and a section of home supporters, as well as being made a scapegoat in England international matches, but retained the backing of the local media and the majority of fans.

References

  1. Stewart Downing to undergo foot surgery
  2. http://ts15.gazettelive.co.uk/2007/12/in_memory_of_vicky.html


External links




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