Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis insists he was confident Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi will make a big impact at club despite doubts in some quarters following his arrival at the club in January.
Mikel penned a short term deal with Pulis’ side after leaving Chinese side Tianjin Teda.
The former Chelsea star turned down overtures from a host of sides, including Premier League Crystal Palace, Wolfsburg and Roma as well as Championship rivals Aston Villa.
When Mikel arrived after his long sabbatical in China there were some doubts expressed about whether he would be fit enough or motivated enough to excel in the Championship – and whether Boro even needed another central midfielder, especially one who was just topping up his pension pot.
But Pulis insists he knew that Mikel had the character and the quality to shine and to bring the best out of the team.
“I’m not surprised about the impact he has had,” Pulis told gazettelive.co.uk.
“I spoke to a lot of people before I spoke to John.
“When you have been out of the country for two years and haven’t played competitive football – no disrespect to the Chinese League – then there is always some doubts but everyone I spoke to said he was a wonderful person, very grounded, very down to earth.
“That’s the big issue with players: it is character, character, character. And John has that in his locker.
“People here will be able to say better than me whether there have been players over the years who have turned up just to take the coin.
“John is not going to do that. He isn’t about the money. He just seem to be enjoying it. I was 100 per cent it was the right move.
“It was difficult to convince everyone it was right because we have so many midfield players and I am not sure what the supporters thought of us bringing another one in, but he was never going to be a gamble for me. He was always going to help us.”11 BUSINESS NUGGETS FROM SUPER EAGLES BRONZE MEDAL TRIUMPH. The content of this ebook will propel you above your competition. Buy NOW!!!