Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Tributes Paid to Ex-Boro Defender Gittens

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Tributes Paid to Ex-Boro Defender Gittens

Article excerpt

Byline: ANTHONY VICKERS @Untypicalboro

Jon Gittens scores THAT goal against Wolves NEIL Maddison has paid a touching tribute to former Boro defender Jon Gittens who has died at the age of just 55.

The robust stopper sealed his place in Boro folklore as he became an unlikely goal hero in a 2-1 last day win at Wolves in May 1992.

That earned promotion to the inaugural Premier League and won the on-loan Southampton stopper a permanent move to Ayresome Park.

Never the most elegant player, Gittens was whole-hearted and energetic with a lively personality that made him popular with teammates and fans at all his clubs. Maddison, the BBC Tees matchday expert summariser, was at Southampton with Gittens in the early 1990s and has very fond memories.

"He was a lovely, genuine and very funny guy," said former midfielder Maddison.

"I was lucky enough to be his apprentice for two years at Southampton and he looked after me and taught me a lot.

"As an apprentice I cleaned his boots and looked after his kit and he was great to me.

"I remember at Christmas the senior pros used to give their apprentices a little bonus and Jon decided to play a three-cup trick with me.

"Under one cup there was a fiver, another had PS50 and one had PS100 and he swished them all around and let me pick.

"I picked the fiver. I was gutted.

Jon went away laughing but a few hours later he pulled me aside and gave me the PS50 and said I had to learn to pick better next time."

When Maddison first broke into the Saints team he played alongside the no-nonsense stopper. "He was a big, strong centrehalf," he recalled. "He wasn't the greatest on the ball but he was imposing and quick and good in the air.

"And he was tough. He was good to have around if it turned into a bit of a battle. He loved a tackle. …

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