Football: Britannia still rules for Boro's boy from Brazil

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Alex Ferguson would have loved it, just loved it. Down at the Riverside Stadium, where the Manchester United manager celebrated the clinching of the Premiership last season, Juninho suggested that his imminent departure from Middlesbrough would not necessarily take him out of English football.

For the third time since Middlesbrough's relegation to the Nationwide League on Sunday, Juninho made it clear that he is not prepared to risk losing a place in Brazil's World Cup squad by spending next season as a second-class football citizen in England.

Spain appears to be the most likely destination for the man who will be wearing the Middlesbrough No 10 shirt against Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday, though he dismissed reports that he is to fly out for talks with Atletico Madrid on Sunday morning as "simply not true".

But Ferguson, one of the many admirers the 24-year-old from Sao Paulo has won in his 18 months here, will have been encouraged by Juninho's declared interest in staying in the Premiership. Asked if he would be interested in joining another English club, he replied: "Yeah! I have adapted to English football. I know how to play here now.

"I like the way the English play. It's a very fast game, attack all the time. The chances come faster for you. I think it has made me a better player. I am a more complete player now. I have not decided about my future yet. I have to talk with Bryan Robson [Middlesbrough's manager] and with Steve Gibson [the club chairman]. But I have to think of my career. It is most important for me to be in the Brazil squad. And to be in the Brazil squad you have to play in good teams."