Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

I Felt like a Kid at Disneyland When Playing for the Boro

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

I Felt like a Kid at Disneyland When Playing for the Boro

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHON TAYLOR @JonathonTaylor1

JULIEN de Sart admits he was "like a kid at Disney" during his short spell at Middlesbrough and has not closed the door on a return to Teesside.

The Belgian midfielder signed for Boro in February 2016, but managed just three senior appearances before returning to Belgium in the summer, joining Zulte Waregem on loan.

Despite his limited experience in England, de Sart has reflected on his incredible time at Boro - and feels he saw "the real England" in what his first taste of football outside of his native homeland. Speaking to Belgian magazine SportFoot, de Sart said: "I enjoyed Middlesbrough because it's the real England.

"The food, the people, the accent - they are very theatrical. For example, once I was in a restaurant and I ordered a 'Milanese' escalope. They brought me that with beans, without pasta - I didn't expect it.

"I visited all the major cities of England: London, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle, York. I can say I had the real English experience. Without this trip, I wouldn't be the player I am today."

The 22-year-old continued: "I learned so much in a very short time. I saw the evolution of my game in three months, it was incredible, although I didn't play much at first.

"When I came back to Belgium [on international duty] I saw that I had become another player. My body, my approach to matches, everything. I felt as if I had made a 10-step leap forward."

De Sart joined Boro from Belgian side Standard Liege and signed a three-and-a-half year contract, but after spending the second half of 2015/16 on the periphery, the talented central midfielder was approached by then-Derby boss Steve McClaren.

He spent the following season developing at the iPro Stadium - but fell out of favour with the Rams following McClaren's departure, with Gary Rowett opting for more experienced players during the run-in. …

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