Tony Pulis wants heavily decorated John Obi Mikel to instill a winning mentality in the Boro squad.
The former Chelsea man has won just about everything; the Premier League, the Champions League, the Europa League, the FA Cup, the League Cup, the African Cup of Nations. He even has a medal from the Olympics.
And the Boro boss wants the silk and steel midfielder to bring that zest for success to the Riverside.
“Being a winner, I have won trophies all of my life,” he said after his debut in Boro’s FA Cup 1-1 draw with Newport. “I know how it feels to be a winner and to win trophies. I want to win and I want to install that in this dressing room.
“Sometimes you need to make sure the lads know that losing is not an option. We had that mentality at Chelsea. Losing is not an option.
“You have to win and if I can help the guys understand that then great.
“That is part of what the manager wants from me. The manager wants to be just here, I have done it all, achieved a lot.
“He wants me to help the team tick over when I am around and out there.
“I want everyone to be together, encourage everyone and lead by example. That’s what I am to do here.”
Mikel applauds the Boro fans (Image: Simon Moore/Focus Images Ltd)
Mikel, 31, arrived on Thursday after several bouts of talks and he opted for Boro ahead of a string of other clubs.
He had interest from top flight Crystal Palace, from Championship sides Derby and Aston Villa and from European outfits Roma and Wolfsburg but felt Boro offered him the best fresh challenge.
And he said, it was a visit to his Home Counties spread from Tony Pulis who personally outlined his project that swung the deal.
“Yes, the manager came to my house,” explained Mikel. “It shows you how much he wanted me.
“Just seeing that, having that sold it to me. We talked about his plans.
“I am here now, I don’t want to talk about any other clubs. It is done. Finished. I am here now.
“It has been easy to fit in. The lads are amazing and when you come to a dressing room together like it is then that helps.
“We all have a good banter and that is what I have missed. I am here for that. To be part of a team.”
Mikel has initially signed a short-term deal but hinted he was open to extending that if things go well.
“I have until the end of the season here and we will see what happens,” he said.
“It is my aim, my goal, as is the dressing room, to get promoted to the Premier League.
“I need to do that with this club and then at the end of the season we will see.
“If not then I’d still be happy to be here, but you never knows, so we will see what happens.”
Mikel has been in China for two years with Tianjin Teda and may be out of touch with the mechanics of the Championship but he has been doing his homework and watching DVDs.
“I have seen a few Middlesbrough games,” he said. “And I have my memories of Middlesbrough. I remember coming here and losing 2-0 or 3-0 (under Mourinho).
“It is a great club. It is a Premier League club. They should be in the Premier League. Hopefully we can achieve that. “
Mikel played the first hour against Newport in the anchor role deep in midfield and looked neat and tidy in possession and showed a nice range of passing, although he admitted he was rusty and needed minutes to get up to speed.
And he said he was happy to play anywhere the manager wanted him to slot in and hinted at a tactical tweak.
“I can play the holding role, as one of two in the middle, whatever position he wants me to play. I have to get fit and see what happens.
“When you come to a club, there are a few things the manager might want to change, maybe to keep the ball a bit more.
“This is something we will look into and hopefully we can improve as a team.”
Mikel was happy with his debut – and his reception – but vowed that he will improve with matches.
“I tried my best after not playing for a few months and the reception was nice so for me it was a good day but not a good result,” he said.
“This was a decent debut for me, the guys rallied behind me and helped me out in my condition.
“I felt good, I felt fit – but playing games is needed. That is the only way to really get up to speed.
“Hopefully I can give more soon. You don’t want to stop. You want to improve every day. We will see in the future.”