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Downing's burning desire for more success

“I have a real desire to play football. As a kid that was all I ever wanted to do"

10 July 2019

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He may have 35 England caps to his name, spent 15 seasons as a Premier League player and have a host of top honours in his decorated career, but Stewart Downing is still targeting more success in the twilight years of his playing career.

The experienced winger, who will celebrate his 35th birthday later this month, became Tony Mowbray's first summer signing when he penned a one-year deal with Rovers in the summer after departing Middlesbrough.

The midfielder, who represented his country at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and the 2012 Euros in Poland and Ukraine, still has plenty to give, and played his part in Boro narrowly missing out on the play-offs in the division last term.

“Just with the experience I’ve had over the last couple of years, I want to come here and enjoy it," he admitted this week.

“I wasn’t doing that towards the end [of Middlesbrough spell]. Yeah, as footballers we train and have a good life, but you have to enjoy it, which goes for any job you do.

“With the situation I had at the end of last season, where I trained but couldn’t play, I have come here and have a really good feeling about the place. I really think I’ll enjoy it here.

“I have a real desire to play football. As a kid that was all I ever wanted to do. You have got to want to do well, to stay fit.

“With all the young players coming through now, you don’t want to be left behind."

Experience was required to supplement Rovers' young squad, with Bradley Johnson joining Downing in being recruited to East Lancashire.

And the ex-West Ham and Liverpool flanker says he's eager to help the likes of Adam Armstrong and Harry Chapman this season.

“They keep me young, keep me fresh and fit," he added when discussing keeping up with the young guns.

"You want to keep up with their standards. When I was younger I’d look at the older players and think ‘they’re old, they’re nearly finished’.

“But now the boot’s on the other foot, if you look after yourself then you’ll be just as fit as the younger players.

“I want to stay in the game and do as well as I can for the club."

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