Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's All Go for Big League Now ( Yakubu

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's All Go for Big League Now ( Yakubu

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jack Pickering

New Middlesbrough striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu has tipped the club to challenge for a Champions League place after completing his pounds 7.5m move to Teesside.

The 22-year-old Nigerian international was formally unveiled yesterday, 24 hours after winning an appeal against the decision not to award him a work permit.

Yakubu, who has signed a five-year contract, arrives with a hugely impressive pedigree having scored more Premiership goals in the last two seasons than any other player barring Arsenal's Thierry Henry.

The former Portsmouth man will get a chance to test himself in Europe when Boro launch their second successive Uefa Cup campaign, but he has even loftier aims.

"For the past two seasons, they have qualified for the Uefa Cup and we want to do more," he said. "We want to be in the top four to play in the Champions League.

"It is like a dream, but with the players we have and the ambition, I think we can do that."

Boro finished seventh in the Premiership last season, and that was enough to book them a place in the Uefa Cup.

Their maiden adventure in the Uefa Cup ended with defeat by Sporting Lisbon in the last 16 last season, but Yakubu believes they could even win the competition this time around. "Yes, I think so," he said. "Yes, because we have good players. I have played in Europe with Maccabi (Haifa) before and now Middlesbrough Football Club are in Europe and they have an ambition, I have seen that already, which is good for me."

Manager Steve McClaren was delighted to have landed Yakubu after trailing him ever since he was alerted to the blossoming African when he had a spell at Derby earlier in his career.

"We have always had an interest," he said. "We tried to do something last season, we could not do it, and I am absolutely delighted we have finally tied him up and got him here to Middlesbrough because he is going to be a tremendous asset for this football club.

"He has proven ability, and you talk about always bringing foreign players and strikers over to this country ( what we have bought here is two years' experience in the Premier League, so he has proved that he can do it. …

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