George Boateng Interview

Last updated : 13 May 2009 By Chris Evans

George Boateng is part of an exclusive club only two other players belong to. So exclusive in fact, that Premier League legends Thierry Henry and Eric Cantona don't even come close to be invited to join.

For all the superstar foreign imports that have flocked in (and back out again) of the revolving door of English football, Boateng has quietly and unassumedly chalked up twelve consecutive English top flight seasons - a record only Patrick Berger and Dwight Yorke can match.

In all his years of experience though, Boateng is potentially facing the biggest threat to prolonging his statistic yet. With just a handful of games remaining this season, his current club Hull City lie just a few points above the dreaded relegation zone, and in free fall since the turn of the year.

Despite this, Boateng does not appear concerned: "It's the teams first year in the Premiership, and I think before the start of the season the manager would take with a few games to go to be outside the relegation zone. If you asked him if he would be happy, I think he would say yes. I can't say that we're having a bad season.
"For me I know people are talking about relegation, but I came here striving for success, I didn't come here to play for failure. People are talking about relegation, relegation, relegation; but I'm talking about striving for success, can we finish tenth or eleventh, or even in the first ten.
"We'll try our hardest, and if we win two games we will probably be tenth or eleventh in the league. I mean I am confident, avoiding relegation is not at the moment a big achievement, because we are not in the relegation zone."

The Ghana born midfielder seems confident his side can avoid the drop, and seems assured enough to have one eye on what can be achieved in his thirteenth Premier League campaign and beyond with Hull.

"It all depends on where we finish this year, if we finish tenth then the target has already been put down for next year," Boateng continues.

"Whereas if we finish just above the relegation zone then obviously we'll try and finish higher than that. What is great is that the stadium is wonderful, and the club is building for success, for bigger crowds.
"Hull has all the attributes coming in the next few years to establish themselves, a bit like Middlesbrough were, to be in the Premiership for the next ten years."

As the season builds towards a dramatic crescendo, it is increasingly beginning to look as though Hull's prospects of building a Premier League dynasty will rely heavily on how Boateng's former employers fair in their own fight against the drop.

Regardless of this, the thirty-three year old doesn't wish ill on Middlesbrough, and hopes to see them recover from their current predicament.

"They made decisions last year to get rid of the senior players which they achieved, and you have to live with the decisions you make everyday.
"So they have to deal with that as well. They started off really well and have faded away the last few months. Really it's up to them to try and get things sorted as soon as possible."

Boateng's attitude towards Middlesbrough reflects his life, believing that any decision that is made should be lived with rather than regretted.

Following a challenging first year in England with Coventry City back in 1997, Boateng has gone from strength to strength, and the Holland international is glad he persevered through a difficult first few months.

"It was really hard. At the time I came to England with my girlfriend (now his wife) it was difficult moving to a different country. We were really homesick, and I made 23 flights back to Holland from Coventry - I think the first 20 flights came in the first two months.
"I was fine as soon as I got home, but I was really homesick and had to get used to the lifestyle, the weather, the food, the humour, and the training was a lot harder and a lot different.
"That was the hardest thing, but it was a great experience. The boys at Coventry embraced me, they gave me a great opportunity and a chance to play and demonstrate my football."

At the time of his £220,000 move from Feyenoord to Coventry, there were other offers on the table that could have led to a far different lifestyle and future, and looking back Boateng feels he made the right choice.

"I think the best decision I ever made was to come to England. When I came to Coventry I could have gone to Spain, and played for Deportivo La Coruna, but I didn't.
"At the time Deportivo were second in La Liga in Spain, and I could have played in the Champions League, but I chose to come to England. It's proved to the best decision I have made."

Twelve years on, the combative midfielder has gone on to play in the FA and UEFA Cup finals, as well as picking up a League Cup winners medal for Middlesbrough in 2004, and embarking on an international career with his adopted nation, Holland.

"The first time that I played for Holland when I was 26 was a huge achievement for me. When I was at Aston Villa, John Gregory said at the start of the season, we are going to make sure you get in the squad this year.
"He was the first person to call me when it happened, and I will never forget that, it was a great achievement. The other best achievement was when I won the Carling Cup."

But for now, Boateng is focused on the present, and the future prospect of a thirteenth successive campaign rubbing shoulders with the Premier League's elite.