GRANT Leadbitter has returned to Middlesbrough to take up a coaching role within the club’s academy set up.

The 36-year-old, who announced his retirement from playing in the summer of 2021, has been appointed as an Individual Development Coach which will see the former midfielder work across all age groups at the club.

Leadbitter has been working on his UEFA Coaching A license throughout the year and has been at Rockliffe on a number of occasions as part of his development into coaching.

The former Sunderland man, who spent seven years on Teesside making 230 appearances scoring 32 goals, is a fan favourite at Boro having been part of the team that secured promotion back to the Premier League in 2016.

The club’s Academy manager Craig Liddle said: “It’s great to have someone with Grant’s experience on board. He’s worked hard on his coaching qualifications over the past year and he brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding.

“He’s an example for the young players in our Academy because of what he achieved in his career and he knows what it takes to be a good professional.”

Leadbitter follows in the footsteps of former Sunderland team mate Lee Cattermole who was appointed as Boro's Under-18's coach.