Middlesbrough have confirmed the permanent signing of England defender Jonathan Woodgate.
Woodgate, 27, arrived at his home-town club in August on a season-long loan from Real Madrid, and he has now made the move permanent.
Woodgate, who will cost ‘Boro £7m, revealed he made his decision three months ago.
“I made my mind up about three months ago, to be honest, but we could not really say anything,” he said.
“I went into the manager’s office and told him I wanted to sign. I think he was caught unexpectedly when I told him I wanted to sign.
“I am extremely happy. It has been an ambition of mine to play for the club and I am doing that now – I am going to do that for the next four years.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here working with the manager and all the other players. I am just really happy.”
Middlesborough manager Gareth Southgate said the signing of Woodgate represented a real coup for the Teesside club.
“It’s a real boost for us, not only for now but in terms of planning for next season,” said Southgae.
“The opportunity to bring in a player of this quality does not happen very often. We said when he signed on loan that it was a coup but to get him now on a permanent basis is massive for this club.
“He’s shown us this season that he’s as good as there is in the Premier League and that’s not something I say lightly,” added the former England centre back.
Woodgate, whose time in Madrid was plagued by injury, has signed a a four-year contract.
His form and fitness since his arrival at Middlesbrough, earned Woodgate a recall to the England side for the friendly against Spain in February.
The former Leeds defender cost Newcastle £8m when they signed him in January 2003, and Real paid £13.4m for his services in August 2004.