As a player George Boateng embodies everything that makes the Premier League the best in the world - speed, determination and a never-say-die attitude. Educated the Dutch way at Feyenoord, Boateng is a veteran of the English top division who has been a fans' favourite at every club he's played for.
An aggressive midfielder with a huge heart and endless stamina, Boateng has been the driving force at four different Premier League clubs. A huge fan of English football, at the age of 22 he swapped Champions League football at Feyenoord to join Coventry City's relegation battle. It was a brave and risky move to join a team struggling at the wrong end of the table. Many players who have done the same have failed to prove themselves in England and returned home with their tails between their legs. But not George; his all-action style was exactly what Gordon Strachan's side needed.
In his first game in England, Boateng faced the might of Liverpool and came away with the man-of-the-match award. He played a huge part in ensuring the Sky Blues' survival that season and in the process caught the eye of Aston Villa boss John Gregory. Villa came in for Boateng in 1999. After a slow start to his time at Villa Park, Boateng fought his way into the first team and helped Villa to the FA Cup final in his first season. Villa lost that day but it gave the midfielder a taste for the big occasion.
A difference of opinion led to the Dutchman's departure from Villa Park in 2002 and Middlesbrough were only too happy to pay £5 million for a Premier League player with proven class who was glad to do the dirty work in midfield. He did not disappoint the Riverside faithful – bringing his trademark high octane displays and working his way up to club captain. In 2004 he won his first trophy in England, the League Cup at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
On an epic journey to Cardiff, Boro won two penalty shoot-outs and beat the likes of Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal. In the final against Bolton they came out fighting from the first whistle and within ten minutes were two goals up. The Trotters pulled one back but Middlesbrough held on to win their first ever cup. It was a proud moment for both Boateng and the club. He would go on to help the side to a UEFA Cup final before seeking a new challenge with Premier League new boys Hull City.