Juninho first arrived back on Teesside back in October 1995 from Sao Paulo for a fee of £ 4.75 million. During my time on Teesside he is without doubt the greatest player I have witnessed pulling on the red shirt for Middlesbrough.It is incredible to think Juninho has played for Middlesbrough on three occasions. Despite his lack of height, he had a heart the size of a lion, great skill, balance and created and scored goals, not a bad combination. Apart from being a great player, he is also a terrific individual warm, friendly and humble. The first time I pencilled in an interview with him was when he was over in Spain playing for Atletico Madrid. Unfortunately I didn’t make it and I am led to believe his father was furious and accused me of not liking his son. That was nonsense of course, the reason was because of my flying phobia.Since then I caught up with him on his return to middlesbrough and interviewed him at Crathorne Hall.
When I heard the news Juninho was returning to play for Middlesbrough, in the first teams final preparation game against PSV at the Riverside, I was shocked. From a PR perspective its great, it should put plenty of bums on seats and no doubt sell loads of merchandise. But as a professional outfit, to replace a first team player with Juninho is disgraceful. Put it this way if I was the guy being left out I would knock Moggas door down. Its unprofessional, its not good for harmony and its certainly not good preparation for the opening game of the season against Portsmouth.
Look Juninho might only play 10mins, 15mins or 1hr, but for me he shouldn’t be turning out at all.
I have read its an opportunity for the samba star to say farewell to the fans. There has been some great players in Middlesbroughs history, that have played treble the amount of games that the little fella has played and have been more loyal, they have never been invited to watch a game let alone play in one. If I was working for the PR at the club, I would be giving myself a pat on the back,its a brilliant idea, but I am an ex player, pundit and a fan and personally I think its b******s.
It would have been more appropriate for Juninho to have played in the Gary Parkinson game.