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By ESPN Staff

Boateng is new Boro captain

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has handed former team-mate George Boateng his captain's armband for the new season.

The 30-year-old Dutchman will lead the side after the new manager's retirement as a player.

Southgate, who also played alongside Boateng during his time at Aston Villa, admitted there were other candidates but he did not have to think too long and hard before making his decision.

He said: 'George Boateng is going to be captain next year. There were one or two people that I needed to consider, but I think George has the drive, the desire to win and the passion that I'm looking for from somebody on the field.

'Socially, he's also an excellent member of the group. He connects with all the guys in the dressing room, whether that's the British boys or the foreign guys we have got.

'He'll be a good link in the dressing room, and of course I've played with him for years, so I have a good relationship with him as well.

'I'm not saying we're going to be best pals, but I know we can talk and communicate, and that's going to be very important.

'It's also important to me that there are other senior players in the dressing room.

'I'll be seeking their opinion regularly, just like I'll be seeking the opinion of all the players.

'I want to find out if there are things they think we could be doing better, or things they want changing in training.

'They won't be running it, but we're providing for them to perform as well as they can, so we need feedback from them all the time about how they feel.'

The news will come as a major boost to Boateng, who has established himself as one of the club's most consistent performers since his £5million move from Villa in August 2002.

He was desperately disappointed to miss out on both FA Cup and UEFA Cup glory last season, and to cap it all, was left out of the Dutch World Cup squad after initially being placed on standby.

Southgate said: 'I spoke to him before I got the job when he was on standby, and I know he was disappointed to be left out.

'I think heading towards the European final, he felt he had a great chance of going.

'It was a big disappointment for him, as it would have been for any player. But he's a really driven guy.

'The Dutch squad is a difficult one to break into - they have players of real quality.

'I think he has been looking for a fresh challenge, and hopefully this extra responsibility will bring even more out of him. I think it will.'