Grant Leadbitter has announced his retirement from professional football.
A modern day Boro great, Leadbitter arrived at the club from Ipswich Town in the summer of 2012 and was named our player of the year in his very first season. He was the driving force in Boro's midfield over a six-and-a-half year spell, notching up just shy of 250 appearances, many as club captain.
He was named in the PFA Team of the Year as Boro journeyed all the way to the play-off final at Wembley in 2014/15, and was a cornerstone of the side as we went one step further and secured a historic promotion to the Premier League a year later.
Having come through the ranks at boyhood club Sunderland, he finished his playing career with the Black Cats after returning to the Wearside club from Boro in January 2019.
Grant wrote the following message:
The time has come to officially end my days playing professional football.
After taking a few months off to enjoy a holiday with the family and reflect, I've realised I am ready to retire.
Of course there has been a temptation to carry on, but since playing my final game for Sunderland in May I have had it in my mind I wasn't going to play on. I just wanted to be sure it was the correct decision.
For me to finish after my second and final spell at the club where it all started, the one I supported as a boy, and where I loved going with my mam and dad, just seems right.
Now I can look forward.
I would like to thank my mam and dad for everything they did for me and my sisters - helping me to fulfil a dream.
And, of course, I want to thank my wife and two daughters for all of their support throughout a career which has led me to play for clubs with great history.
The memories I have from playing for Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Ipswich will live with me forever.
Those promotion celebrations with Sunderland and Middlesbrough were incredible and I am proud to have played in the Premier League for both.
I have worked with some fantastic people, some top players and under brilliant managers. I loved wearing the colours of all the clubs I played for and it was an honour to wear the England shirt from schoolboy all the way up to Under-21s.
Who knows what the future holds but I am excited about it. I will miss playing but whether I go into coaching, the media or even something else I know I can draw on my experiences and help others in the future.
Once again, thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way.