Gibson keeping his feet on the ground after dream start to Middlesbrough career (From The Northern Echo)
For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Gibson keeping his feet on the ground after dream start to Middlesbrough career
Ben Gibson has been given a run in Middlesbrough’s team after a spate of injuries in the squad, but the grounded defender has taken his opportunity with both hands. Sports writer Richard Mason spoke to the 20-year-old on his goals for the season and what makes him tick
WITH his assured performances giving the impression he has been playing for Middlesbrough for years, it is difficult to believe that Ben Gibson has made only a handful of league appearances for his hometown club - and that he is only 20 years old.
However, Gibson, Middlesbrough’s mature, well-spoken centre-half, has put his dream start to his Boro career down to the time he spent away from the club on loan.
After spending two seasons on loan at Plymouth, York City and Tranmere Rovers, academy product Gibson returned to Boro to stake his claim for a place and was given his first league start at Queens Park Rangers three weeks ago.
But although Gibson thought he was ready before being sent out on loan, he knows his game has improved as a result of his experience in the lower leagues.
“When I look back now I thought I was ready to play in the team, before even my first loan spell,” said the 20-year-old.
“I joke about it now with my dad because I’ve improved so much in the last couple of years because of the loan experiences that I’ve had, I can’t really put into words.
Each loan spell I’ve had has been a different experience, especially for a centre-half. You normally find centre-halves are a lot older than myself, I’ve managed to pick up some things quite quickly and you only get that by playing games.
“So it was important for me to get those experiences, to learn to see football games out and to learn to lead a defence, hopefully that’s something I’m showing now.”
In 2011-12, Gibson played 16 games for Argyle between August and December, before spending the second half of the campaign at York, helping the Minstermen win the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final against Luton Town and then returning to Wembley to lift the FA Trophy eight days later.
At the start of 2012-13 he went on loan to League One Tranmere Rovers either side of a thigh injury.
And Gibson feels that the challenge of playing against players who have their livelihoods on the line has been a greater one than spending time playing for the development squad.
“The reserve games are very technically demanding, they’re all pretty games, but it’s something I used to say to my dad, there’s nothing like playing against players that, in the lower leagues, need the win bonuses to provide for their families,” said Gibson.
“People might think that’s an exaggeration but when I was at York in the Conference, that was what it was like. People who needed that win bonus on a Saturday to go out for meals and to live a good, healthy enjoyable lifestyle and to get out.
“It was massive to win, and that’s what it is, everything is geared towards winning, every game is a tough test, so I learned a lot. I can’t say enough how much I valued and cherished those experiences.”
Boro picked up their second victory of the season last weekend against Yeovil Town in a game that eased growing pressure on manager Mowbray, and Gibson believes that the win can be a catalyst for success this season.
“It was a relief more than anything,” said Gibson as Boro ran out 4-1 winners against the Glovers. “People get concerned and understandably so, it’s our team, it’s our town’s team. We live and breathe football up here.
“It was one of those things that once we made that margin - especially in the way we have conceded goals this season - it gave us that air of comfort.
“Hopefully we can start to keep clean sheets but keep the goals going in at the same time, as we’ve said all season we don’t think we’re far away from being a competitive team in this league, we proved that against Yeovil and now we’ve got to look to build on it.
“If we win the next two games, there’s eight between us and the play-off positions, that’ll be six points for us and it can turn around dramatically.
“You often see a team in the bottom four normally makes a late run for it and ends up somewhere near the play-offs. You’ve got to take each game as it comes, keep trying to do the right things, keep trying to play the right way like the manager wants us to, and keep doing what we’re doing, the wins will come.”
Gibson was given his chance in the team after Rhys Williams was sent off against Bournemouth and was suspended for the trip to Loftus Road, but injury to Jonathan Woodgate in the capital has given the former Marton youngster an extended run in the team.
Woodgate should be fit for the trip to Barnsley in a week’s time, but Gibson is not going to give up the shirt without a fight.
He said: “It feels like I’ve been involved for a while now, yet the games I play there’s always someone saying “this is your first so and so, this is your first start here,” so as much as I enjoyed my first game, my first home game and my first goal, I’m glad to get them behind me and now I can nail down a shirt.
“Hopefully I’ve impressed the manager enough for him to start me against Barnsley and when the time comes I’ll do exactly what I’ve done so far and keep the shirt as long as I can.
“I can’t really put into words how much I’ve enjoyed the experience so far, I’ve loved every minute and every second of being on that pitch, especially for the games at the Riverside. It’s where I feel I belong and I just want more of it.”
Having represented England at under-17 level, Gibson admits it would be a proud moment should his run in the team lead to a call-up for Gareth Southgate’s England under-21 squad, but the grounded defender is fully focused on his fledgling Boro career at present.
“I’ve played for England in the past, it’s something I’ve been proud to do and something I’ve loved doing,” said Gibson. “But Middlesbrough’s my bread and butter. Anything that comes internationally will be a bonus, just concentrating what doing what I am for the club and that’s my aim for the season.
“I need to nail down the shirt and become a regular for this football club. I don’t want to get carried away talking about anything like that. But if it came along that would be a massive bonus.”
Comments are closed on this article.