Riverside favourite George Boateng was there to witness Boro's long-awaited return to the Premier League against Brighton last month and the former captain says the atmosphere was comparable to that of the monumental UEFA Cup quarter and semi-finals.

Boateng made over 180 appearances for Boro during a six-year stay on Teesside and featured heavily in the team's run to the UEFA Cup final against Sevilla a decade ago.

The former Dutch international was a key member of the squad during Boro's last spell in the Premier League and believes the final day atmosphere was on a par with some of the greatest in the club's history.

"I came because I wanted to witness the whole event since Boro had come so close the season before losing in the final," said Boateng. "I thought it would be nice and a great atmosphere. 

"It gave me a nice feeling when I saw the crowd and all the banners - it made me think of some of the matches I played at Boro. 

"Games like the FA Cup quarter-final against Charlton at home and obviously the two European quarter and semi-finals against Basel and Steaua Bucharest. 

"The Roma game, too. The atmosphere was electric that night and the Brighton game was similar to that.

"That's why I wanted to be there to witness it. Everything was how I expected it to be. 

"It was all about Middlesbrough getting over the line so everyone would be happy in the stadium. 

"Obviously I wanted Boro to win. When they don't, everyone's down and then I feel that as well. The reception was great, Boro made it over the line and there was lots of celebrating."

It's taken seven years in the second tier for Boro to make it back to the top flight and Boateng says the hard work now begins to make sure the club stays in the Premier League.

"This is where the work really starts," he said. 

"It's like when you're a young player and you want to make it to the first team - you think that when you make it there that's it. 

"But in truth, when you do that's when the real work starts to keep your place. You've got an audience and there is competition everywhere. 

"The club is in exactly the same position now after winning promotion. Everyone has worked really hard to get to the Premier League. Now they are there and the work really starts. 

"I'm sure Aitor Karanka, his backroom staff, Steve Gibson and the recruitment team are all working 24/7 during the summer, because that's what it will take."