Stewart Downing (born 22 July 1984) is an English professional footballer who plays for Championship club Blackburn Rovers. He has played most of his career as a winger, where he operates predominantly on the left-hand side, though he can play on the right and go inside on to his stronger left foot. Downing has played more recently as an attacking midfielder.
Downing training with Middlesbrough in 2016
|Full name||Stewart Downing|
|Date of birth||22 July 1984|
|Place of birth||Middlesbrough, England|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Playing position||Winger / Attacking midfielder|
|2003||→ Sunderland (loan)||7||(3)|
|2013–2015||West Ham United||69||(7)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 09:11, 6 October 2019 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 16:43, 21 June 2019 (UTC)
Downing started his career at Middlesbrough, where after a loan at Sunderland, he became a key part of the team, winning the League Cup in 2004 and helping them to the UEFA Cup final two years later. In 2009, after Boro's relegation, he joined Aston Villa for an initial £10 million, then moved on to Liverpool for twice that amount two years later, again winning the League Cup in 2012. He played for two seasons at West Ham United before returning to Middlesbrough. In 2019, he was released by Middlesbrough after 404 total appearances, and signed for Blackburn.
Downing signed his first professional contract on 6 September 2001. His debut came on 24 April 2002 in a Premier League match away to Ipswich Town, playing the full 90 minutes of a 1–0 loss at Portman Road. He was limited to just three appearances during that season, plus a further three the following season. His first senior goal came on 1 October 2002 in a 4–1 League Cup second round away victory over Brentford, coming on as a substitute to conclude the scoring at Griffin Park.
On 30 October 2003, Downing went on a one-month loan to Sunderland, of the First Division. He scored three goals in seven matches for Mick McCarthy's Black Cats team, starting on 4 November when he equalised in a 3–1 win at Gillingham, also assisting John Oster.
Having scored as many goals on his loan as Middlesbrough's top scorer Szilárd Németh had recorded all season, Downing was recalled from his loan on 11 December due to injury to Juninho. He was a regular for the remainder of the season, but was an unused substitute on 29 February 2004, when they won the 2004 League Cup Final against Bolton Wanderers.
The 2004–05 season saw Downing make 49 appearances, scoring six goals, as well as providing numerous assists. In a UEFA Cup match against Lazio in November 2004, both Downing and Zenden were in the starting line-up. Though Zenden scored both goals in the 2–0 victory, Downing drew praise for his performance down the left. Such performances that season saw him called up to Sven-Göran Eriksson's England squad in February 2005 for a friendly against the Netherlands.
A knee injury saw Downing sidelined for five months at the end of 2005, though he returned to play his part in the run to the 2006 UEFA Cup Final, including three assists in the 4–2 (4–3 agg) victory over Steaua București in the semi-final second leg. He started in the final as Middlesbrough were beaten 4–0 by Sevilla at the Philips Stadion.
On 26 February 2008, Downing signed a new five-year contract, keeping him signed on at Middlesbrough until summer 2013. With the departure of Mark Schwarzer in May 2008, Downing became Middlesbrough's second longest serving player after Brad Jones.
The 2008–09 season was a mixed one for Downing. Middlesbrough had their best start to the season in six years which saw them climb to 8th in the table, however, a terrible winless run which started in November 2008 saw them fall into the relegation zone. On 5 January 2009, he handed in a written transfer request expressing his desire to leave the club but the request was turned down on the same day. In the penultimate match of the season, he sustained a foot injury after a challenge from Stiliyan Petrov in a home match against Aston Villa in May 2009, which needed an operation, ruling him out for at least four months. After spending the whole of the second half of the season in the relegation zone, Middlesbrough were relegated on the final day after they lost 2–1 away at West Ham United. Downing, having started every league match, except the last match, ended the season with no league goals, having only scored two against West Ham United in the FA Cup.
Following Middlesbrough's relegation, Downing signed a four-year contract with Aston Villa, becoming Martin O'Neill's first signing of the 2009 Summer transfer window for a fee of £10 million with an extra £2 million to be paid depending on appearances. On 7 November 2009, O'Neill announced that Downing had returned to full training following his injury against Villa while playing for Middlesbrough during 2008–09. Downing made his Aston Villa debut on as a 69th-minute substitute for Steve Sidwell in the away match against Burnley. He scored his first goal for Villa in the League Cup fourth round tie against Portsmouth at Fratton Park on 1 December 2009.
Downing's return to action saw him returning to his preferred left wing role, with James Milner moving to central midfield for Villa. Downing played in Villa's first win at Old Trafford against Manchester United since 1983 on 12 December 2009 in their 1–0 victory over the Red Devils. Downing then went on to score his first and second league goal for Villa in their 5–2 win against Burnley on 2 February 2010. His second season with Aston Villa had been a much improved one, he scored the first Premier League goal of the season against West Ham United at Villa Park on 14 August in a 3–0 win. In the final match of the season, Downing scored his eighth against Liverpool at Villa Park with the result ending 1–0; during the 2010–11 season, Downing made 44 appearances and scored eight goals in all competitions. Downing was the subject of speculation over the summer, with Liverpool showing interest in the winger. On 6 July, Liverpool tabled a bid of £15 million for Downing but this was rejected by Villa, who said they would not let Downing go for less than £20m. New Villa manager Alex McLeish then stated that Downing was not for sale and he would not be leaving Villa in the summer. However, on 13 July 2011, a fee was agreed between Aston Villa and Liverpool for the transfer of Downing.
Downing completed his move to Liverpool on 15 July 2011, for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around £20 million. On 13 August 2011, Downing made his debut in Liverpool's first match of the 2011–12 Premier League, in a 1–1 draw against Sunderland at Anfield, playing the full 90 minutes. On 20 August 2011, he started and played the full 90 minutes against Arsenal in a 2–0 victory at the Emirates Stadium. On 6 January 2012, Downing scored his first goal for Liverpool against Oldham Athletic at Anfield in the third round of the FA Cup. On 26 February he won the League Cup with Liverpool, scoring his penalty in the shoot-out and winning the Alan Hardaker Trophy as Man of the Match. On 18 March 2012 he scored the winner in a 2–1 victory over Stoke City in the FA Cup quarter-final, securing a second Wembley visit for Liverpool in the semi-finals in what was described as "his most telling Liverpool contribution" so far.
Downing scored the winner in Liverpool's first match of 2012–13, a left foot shot in a UEFA Europa League match against Gomel. On 30 August 2012, Downing was deployed as a left back against Hearts. He scored the winning and only goal against Anzhi Makhachkala at Anfield in the Europa League. After the match, he was praised by manager Brendan Rodgers saying "It's been a tough time. He's had a rough ride but he's an important member of our team." On 22 December, he made his first league assist and scored his first league goal in a 4–0 win against Fulham. He scored his second league goal for the club on 2 March 2013, opening the scoring in a 4–0 win away to Wigan Athletic, with a header from a Philippe Coutinho cross. In Liverpool's next match, Downing scored the equaliser against Tottenham Hotspur, in a 3–2 home victory for Liverpool. This marked Downing's fifth goal in all competitions and his last goal for Liverpool.
West Ham UnitedEdit
On 13 August 2013, Downing signed a four-year contract with West Ham United for an undisclosed fee which was reported to be in the region of £5m. He made his debut for the club, coming on as a substitute for Matt Jarvis in the 2–0 home win against Cardiff City at Upton Park on the opening day of the 2013–14 season on 17 August 2013. Downing scored his first goal for West Ham on 3 May 2014 in a 2–0 home win against Tottenham Hotspur.
In the 2014–15 season, Downing scored his first goal of the season against Crystal Palace in a 3–1 away win on 23 August 2014. Downing continued his fine form for West Ham in a diamond formation which saw him being deployed in a central role. On 1 November 2014, Downing scored for West Ham against Stoke City in a 2–2 away draw, with West Ham coming from two goals down to draw 2–2. Downing scored his third goal of the season against Sunderland in a 1–1 draw away from home on 13 December 2014. A week later, he scored against Leicester City, curling a left-footed shot from 20 yards as West Ham won 2–0.
Return to MiddlesbroughEdit
On 16 July 2015, Downing returned to boyhood club Middlesbrough, signing a four-year contract for an officially undisclosed fee which was reported as £5.5m rising to £7m if Middlesbrough were to gain promotion to the Premier League. The first match of his return was on 9 August 2015, a 0–0 draw away to Preston North End in the first Championship match of the season. On 12 September 2015, he netted the first goal of his second spell, to open a 2–0 win over Milton Keynes Dons at the Riverside.
After Middlesbrough secured promotion to the 2016–17 Premier League, Downing's position in the team looked unlikely following the permanent signing of Gastón Ramírez, who had previously signed on loan from Southampton in the January 2016 transfer window. However, Downing switched to the left-wing position instead of his usual attacking midfielder role. Despite their efforts, the club were relegated to the Championship, having only been in the top flight for one season.
Following the appointment of new manager Garry Monk, Downing's time at Middlesbrough looked to becoming an end, and, on 22 June 2017, it was confirmed that Downing had been transfer listed and would leave the club on a free transfer in the summer 2017 transfer window. In the end, however, he remained at the club and regained his first-team place under new manager Tony Pulis.
He was released by Middlesbrough at the end of the 2018–19 season, having totalled 404 appearances in his two spells at the club.
Downing signed for Championship club Blackburn Rovers on 21 June 2019 on a one-year contract. He scored his first goal for Blackburn in an EFL Cup second round tie against Oldham Athletic on 13 August, a 3–2 home win.
Downing was first called up as a 19-year-old for the 2003 UEFA European Under-19 Championship. With seven under-21 caps to his name, Downing made his England debut on 9 February 2005 in a home friendly, played at Villa Park against the Netherlands, replacing Shaun Wright-Phillips in the second half.
Downing's international career took a setback in May 2005 when he was injured during a training session with England on their tour of the United States, keeping him out of action until 2006. Downing was included in the England World Cup squad in May 2006 by Sven-Göran Eriksson, primarily as a back-up for Joe Cole, and came on as a second-half substitute in England's victorious opening match against Paraguay. He was brought on once again in the match against Trinidad and Tobago, when England scored two goals in the last ten minutes.
On 16 August 2006, Downing made his first start for England, as Greece were beaten by 4–0, with Downing involved in three of the goals. He started the subsequent three Euro 2008 qualifiers, against Andorra and Macedonia. Downing hoped to have proven many of his critics wrong after Fabio Capello became the third successive England manager to give him an England cap, on 26 March 2008 in a 1–0 friendly defeat to France. He was also called up (alongside Middlesbrough teammate David Wheater) for Capello's friendlies against United States and Trinidad and Tobago, where he received the nod ahead of Ashley Young. His performance justified his selection by contributing with the first two goals and won praise from the press who had previously slated his inclusion in the squad. A few months after Capello took charge of England, the Italian manager stated that he had been most impressed by Downing. He was chosen again by Capello to replace Aaron Lennon for the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro on 12 October 2010. During his second season with Aston Villa, Downing began to feature regularly for England under Capello.
After his transfer to Liverpool, he featured in the two qualifying matches at the start of the season, a 3–0 win against Bulgaria, and a 1–0 win against Wales in which he provided the assist for the only goal of the match scored by former Aston Villa teammate Ashley Young. He also came on at half-time to replace Theo Walcott in the 1–0 win against Spain and started the following match against Sweden which England also won 1–0. On 16 May 2012, new England manager Roy Hodgson named Downing in his 23-man squad for the upcoming UEFA Euro 2012 tournament. He started in a 1–0 win away to Norway on 26 May, which was Hodgson's first match in charge of England. Downing did not make an appearance during UEFA Euro 2012. Having not appeared in a squad since 2012, in November 2014 Downing was called into the squad for England's matches against Slovenia and Scotland.
Downing has been involved in several charitable and community projects outside his playing career. He supports the nationwide No Messin' campaign, along with freestyler Colin Nell and boxer Amir Khan, warning youngsters against playing on railway lines. Downing held a charity dinner with special guest boxer Ricky Hatton to raise funds for the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne in February 2008. The hospital had cared for Vicky, Stewart's sister, who died of leukaemia in 1993 at the age of 4. The honorary position of president of Middlesbrough Futsal Club was bestowed on Downing in December 2007. During his spare time Downing has DJ-ed at several nightclubs in Middlesbrough while also playing sets in Ibiza among other places.
Downing's former agent Ian Elliott was arrested by Cleveland Police in September 2008 after he was reported to the police by the player himself after he had concerns "regarding the way his and his company's affairs [had] been handled". He told Middlesbrough about his concerns some time earlier and the club advised him to involve lawyers and accountants to investigate, while The Football Association acted as liaison between the police and the club.
- As of 24 August 2019
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Sunderland (loan)||2003–04||First Division||7||3||—||—||—||7||3|
|Aston Villa||2009–10||Premier League||25||2||6||0||4||1||0||0||35||3|
|West Ham United||2013–14||Premier League||32||1||1||0||4||0||—||37||1|
- As of match played 18 November 2014
- Football League Cup: 2003–04
- UEFA Cup runner-up: 2005–06
- Football League Championship runner-up: 2015–16
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