WITHIN ten minutes of his first appearance for Middlesbrough, Marcus Browne had taken on his man, raised a few noises from the Riverside Stadium crowd and been bundled to the floor by his marker.

Despite being a Londoner, born and bred, the 21-year-old was already feeling at home. He had only joined on the Friday, but he was being greeted and wished luck in Yarm’s High Street when he went out for a coffee after completing the move.

And then to be doing what he does best, looking to be creative in the final third on a football pitch, made him smile even more. Browne is up and running as a Middlesbrough player and he can’t wait for more.

Deciding to leave West Ham United, where he has played since the age of eight, is a big deal for him; moving as far away as possible from the capital’s east end to continue to play English football would make it ordinarily a bigger deal.

He had options to stay closer to his London roots, but Browne had other ideas – and his mum is pleased too!

“It's been a long term goal for my mum, who is from South Shields, to move back up north so that was a massive thing, being able to give her that opportunity. For me it's massively important,” said Browne.

“She moved when she was six, she moved with my nana, just those two moved. After my nan passed, it was always a thing for her to move back up north. I think she's really happy about this.

“She hasn't moved up yet, I'm on my own at the moment, she's just got to tie up some loose ends, what she's going to do with the house and what-not, speak to family. Hopefully she'll be up sooner rather than later because this cooking stuff, I don't think it's for me you know.”

The lure of Middlesbrough, and playing under Jonathan Woodgate, proved too attractive for Browne even though he could have turned down Teesside and stayed further south. As well as a return to Oxford in League One where he was a success on loan, he had a pick of Championship teams, including Derby County.

“There were quite a few clubs interested to be fair,” he said. “Me and my agent were in constant conversations, what's best for me, what's best for my family, which is massively important.

“As a player your main objective and focus is on football, the other stuff that goes on around you, you try to let your agent deal with it. Obviously they feed you the information but they try to be as subtle as they can so you can just concentrate on the football.

“I have to admit it was difficult for me, I had a lot of calls and a lot of clubs keen on taking me on board. It was a bit helter-skelter, everything in the air but I'm glad it's sorted now.

“Me and my agent were literally on the phone all day every day. Train, back in the changing room, on the phone, leave the training ground, go home, on the phone - constant conversations.”

The signs have all been positive for him immediately too. Those two runs against St Etienne, being wiped out by Mathieu Debuchy after he had tormented him, are an indication of what Woodgate wants to see from him.

The Middlesbrough head coach wants his forward to play with freedom and express themselves, rather than go down the road so many coaches do these days where the intention is to purely keep the ball.

“Speaking to the gaffer and the way he wants to play and change the style of play suits me,” explained Browne. “I'm a ball player, I like to play football, I need people behind me as well who can play and get the ball into me.

“Originally I'm a No 10 but last season at Oxford I only played No 10 a handful of times. The majority of the season I was playing left-wing which I adapted to. I ended up feeling comfortable there.

“The thing for me is to come in, progress as a player and person and get minutes. If the gaffer puts me on the pitch I'm happy.”

It was still hard for Browne to leave West Ham, even though he knew it was in his best interests with 12 months remaining of his deal there – and Yarm has made him feel comfortable straightaway,

“West Ham’s my home club, I live in the area but these things happen, that's part and parcel of the game,” he said. “I'm just buzzing to be here. The boys are sound, they've welcomed me with open arms. I knew a couple of the boys already so I'm just eager for the season to start.

“I knew Ashley Fletcher and Darren Randolph from their West Ham days. I spoke to them before I came in as well. I spoke to Jordan (Hugill). He's just gone on loan to QPR, back in the training ground before I came up we were talking a lot about it.

“I've always been hungry. I feel like I look hungry on the pitch. I just want to get at people and cause havoc, you know. Make people have a nightmare of a game and to do that you have to be comfortable on and off the pitch.

“I am already settling in. I was in Yarm, I went for a coffee, a few people were in a restaurant next door and they came out and said ‘welcome to Boro and the area’. Stuff like that has a massive impact, it makes it so much easier. Everyone up here is very nice, polite. I'm buzzing to be here.”