MIDDLESBROUGH boss Tony Pulis has told how he 'snuck down' to John Obi Mikel's house to help seal a move to the Riverside.

Pulis is delighted to have landed Mikel following the Nigerian’s departure from Chinese football.

The former Chelsea midfielder, who won the Champions League and Premier League during his time at Stamford Bridge, is not the sort of player fans had expected to arrive this month.

Pulis said: “He can play anywhere. He played against my teams quite a few times. He was always one that stood out.

“I think he's a player's player, not so sure supporters will ever appreciate what John does as much as his co-players, he's that type of player.

The Northern Echo:

“We need another two players with pace and power up front. John came up out of the blue and it's one we couldn't miss. I didn’t think it was a case of letting it go for whatever else we were looking for, it was a case of getting the player in.”

And he admitted described just how much effort has gone into persuading Mikel that the Riverside should be his next move, having also attracted interest from the likes of Crystal Palace and Derby County.

“I'm delighted, he's not just a good player, he's been a winner. If you look at his record and what he's won, he's been in it at the top level. He's a winner,” said Pulis.

“You can't have too many of those. I snuck down to his house last week or the week before, I can't remember it seems so long ago now, and had a couple of hours with him as soon as I found out he was coming back.

“I had a good chat with him and like I say spent a lot of time on it. He's a little bit short on fitness which we have to accept but him coming in and training yesterday gave the whole place a lift.

“That's what we need, players of that ilk coming in and giving the dressing room a lift.

What is it now, six games unbeaten if we can win tomorrow that will be seven games unbeaten going into some great games in the Championship.

“He has the quality, the stature, the experience, people around will grow. People grow around because of his personality.”