DIMI KONSTANTOPOULOS has described how Middlesbrough and Teesside will always have a special place in his heart as he edges towards extending his playing career by a further 12 months in Dubai.

The Greek goalkeeper, who amicably agreed to leave Boro at the end of his contract last month, has been considering his options at home and abroad before committing to anything.

Now the 40-year-old, having started the process to officially become a British citizen in the last few weeks, looks set to be playing in the Middle East unless there is a sudden change, with Sunderland known to have shown an interest already before they signed Lee Burge.

There are other clubs looking for a goalkeeper, including Blackburn where Tony Mowbray – the man who signed him for Middlesbrough – is in charge.

Konstantopoulos said: “One year in Dubai is looking likely at this stage. I’m looking forward to a new challenge, I want a new challenge to start a fresh and will see how I am after that.

“I haven’t thought of retiring this summer, but my plan is that I want to coach after I retire. I have not set a date for when that is. I have done by B Licence and I’m now working towards my A.

“I have been open in general to things since realising I would not be staying at Middlesbrough. Agents ring you, ask you stuff, ask if you are interested in this and that, and Dubai came up.

“When you take everything into consideration, chat with the family, then it’s about if it is what you are willing to take. The terms seem right and it will be an experience if I go out there. I’m still in negotiations so I don’t want to name the club yet.”

Konstantopoulos has discussed the switch with former Middlesbrough striker Alvaro Negredo, who plays for Dubai’s Al-Nasr, and he has only heard good things so has warmed to the idea of playing for a year there.

He has a young family, two children, he knows that it is a big move for them all at this stage of his career, so everything has to feel right before he commits.

Whatever happens, though, he will have a base in Hartlepool and his Greek restaurant in Middlesbrough, and that will not be changing any time soon – and he has even started the process to hold a British passport.

“I passed my Life in the UK test, the questions were unbelievable, really hard, and I got above 80 per cent,” said Konstantopoulos. “There were questions about King Henry, Parliament, the history of England, the wars … I asked my wife, who is from Hartlepool, three questions from the test and she got them all wrong!

“All together I have been here 14 years, so I hope to have a British passport and to become an official citizen, not just a working one. Now I have to go to English language course, which should be easy because I can speak fluent Smoggie already … well aye.”

The last six years at Middlesbrough have seen him win over fans who were initially surprised to have seen him snapped up by Mowbray in the summer of 2013 as a free agent; at the time he was training with Hartlepool.

His highlight was helping Middlesbrough to promotion to the Premier League in 2016 by keeping a club record nine consecutive clean sheets, during a campaign which included 22 shut-outs in total.

“Everything has been brilliant,” he said. “Ending up at Middlesbrough was a coincidence really, I just got the call. I needed something short term and I ended up staying six year.

“Tony Mowbray said ‘if you do your job you could end up here for years’. That was when I went to sign. I have signed more contracts than autographs since then.

“I put the work in and the fans appreciated it straight away. That was my biggest gain, the relationship I had with the fans, the respect and that will stay with me forever.

“I have spent a lot of time at Middlesbrough. I love the club, my time there. I had a chat with them to see if we could sort something out to stay this summer but it wasn’t something we could agree on.

“The views were different for me to continue. I decided it was a good time to go. It was mutual. It wasn’t something that was a surprise, with all the things that happened last season. I was told different things, at some stage that changed. I started to look around because I expected it (leaving) was coming.”

Konstantopoulos is confident that Jonathan Woodgate, who he has a good relationship with, will succeed as head coach at the Riverside Stadium.

The former Hartlepool player said: “Woody was a top player. He brought a lot of experience to the club. You could see his quality from day one and he is a good lad all round, clever as a player.

“He loves the club and this is a great opportunity for him now to take that into management. He has his own philosophy, his own ideas and I think he will try to put that in to his style of play.

“It is a difficult job because of the situation, the development in general and changing the course of the club, but I wish him all the best. He will have time to do that and hopefully he can. I’m sure he will.”