Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boro Must Be Local Heroes

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boro Must Be Local Heroes

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

They have become increasingly well known on the Continent but George Boateng has warned his Middlesbrough team-mates that their European exploits will count for little if they are unable to win battles at a local level.

The Uefa Cup semi-finalists will return to domestic action this weekend when they host Newcastle in the 117th Tees-Tyne derby and, although the dramatic manner of their 4-3 aggregate victory over FC Basel ensured that Steve McClaren's team departed the pitch as heroes on Thursday night, defeat at the hands of their North-East rivals tomorrow would bring them back down to earth with a bump.

"Everybody's still in the clouds but when we wake up and start thinking about the Newcastle game, we will remember that it is a big game for many reasons, not least local pride," said the influential Dutchman, who directed affairs from midfield as the Teessiders overcame the Swiss champions on a thrilling night of European football.

"We don't want to beat Basel and go out on Sunday and lose this game against Newcastle. If we did that we wouldn't be able to go out again for a few days. This is a big game for us."

Given the scale of Boro's remarkable comeback, McClaren's greatest challenge could be to focus the minds of his players on domestic affairs once again. It is inevitable that Europe will dominate the thoughts of the Teessiders for the foreseeable future.

"I have had big nights in my career before but that was up there with anything that I have ever experienced," said Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, the striker who came off the bench on Thursday to inspire Boro to the unlikeliest of victories. "There are no words that can do it justice.

"It was a fantastic comeback and I think a lot of people will be sitting up and taking notice of Middlesbrough after that. …

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