HIS MATES tell him he's "past it" but nobody at Middlesbrough is of that view when it comes to captain Jonny Howson.

The midfielder - who turns 36 later this month - knows his close pals are only joking, though he laughs himself at the idea that some of Boro's debutants this season weren't born when Howson made his very first professional appearance back in 2006.

How fortunate Boro's youngsters are to have Howson to look up to and learn from. And the skipper, who earlier this month put pen to paper on a new one-year deal at the Riverside, knows just how greatly he's appreciated in the dressing room, for he was last week named Players' Player of the Year.

"I was surprised and it took me back a bit," he said.

"In my own personal time, with certain things in life or to do with football, when you have your moment to yourself sometimes things can get to you a bit. That surprised me a bit.

"Any individual or team award is always a great thing. But to be recognised by the players you spend a lot of time with, train with day in, day out, play matches, have that respect, it meant so much to me.

"I'm probably a bit naïve sometimes in regards to things like that and how much you can affect certain people. To get that recognition was a nice moment."


What was also nice for Howson was feeling wanted and loved ahead of agreeing to extend his stay at Boro.

"I have a lot of reasons I want to carry on and keep putting everything I've got into it," he says.

"One of the reasons is to repay the faith that's been shown in me. Whether that's the club, the manager, I have hundreds of reasons I want to carry on. It's nice. We were talking for a couple of weeks and it was pretty straight forward (to agree the contract) but until it's signed and all sorted, it's hard to come out and say yeah I'll be here.

"There's been a few one year deals around this time of the season for me. I feel like I'm saying the same things I've said for the last couple of seasons, but I'm still enjoying my time here, I still want to carry on and it's great that the club want me to be here. But also I think I can still play a part as well, so it's nice for both sides."

Middlesbrough recently launched their Legacy Numbers, marking the contribution of every single player who has represented the first team club at senior level.

James Wilson became the 999th when he was introduced from the bench in the final minute of the final day win over Watford.

More than 100 players have made their Boro debuts since Howson's first appearance in red and white, a marker of the midfielder's longevity on Teesside.

"I don't have social media but someone close to me had mentioned it and asked me how many players do I think had made their debut since I started," he said to the club website.

"I was quite a bit off. It's perception. You can look at it and think a lot of people have come through the door or from a personal point of view, it's a nice achievement that I'm still involved and playing when that amount of people have come through the door.

"In regards to the age thing, it's perception again. Some players who played this season weren't even born when I made my professional debut. My mates tell me I'm past it, call me old, it's time to pack it in and let the younger lads have a go, but they do also say it's good going that I am still going. That's how I look at it, little milestones and little things like that."