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Sunday, September 18, 2011
Downing: I nearly joined Spurs

ESPNsoccernet staff

Liverpool's Stewart Downing has revealed he was close to joining Tottenham from Middlesbrough in 2008, but the London club were unsuccessful with transfer bids and ultimately missed out on the England international.

Downing instead joined Aston Villa for 12 million, where he enjoyed two seasons before being lured to Anfield by Kenny Dalglish. The 27-year-old is now hoping to show Harry Redknapp exactly what Spurs missed out on as Liverpool travel to White Hart Lane for Sunday's Premier League clash.

"Tottenham made a couple of moves for me when I was at Boro. There were offers in the summer of 2008. Spurs came in again that following January. Then I got injured.

''I got frustrated because [Middlesbrough] were struggling and I thought I'd missed an opportunity. I didn't really put a transfer request in but went in to express my feelings to [club chairman] Steve Gibson, that if another opportunity came to move to a big club, I'd like to do it," Downing is quoted as saying in The Independent.

Middlesbrough's relegation from the Premier League then cleared the way for Villa boss Martin O'Neill to swoop in ahead of Redknapp.

''Steve Gibson rang me and said he'd give me permission to go. I just felt it was the right time. Because I was injured, I think Spurs were maybe thinking they'd wait until the August but I couldn't take that risk. The big thing for me was Martin O'Neill pushed it really hard.

"I'm glad I spoke to O'Neill and I'm happy I went to Villa because it's a great football club and he was really good to me," said Downing.

Since joining Liverpool this summer, Downing says he has enjoyed working under the guidance of club legend Dalglish.

"He has a bit of an aura about him. I think he's bigger than all the players here put together.

''When you look at the bigger picture it's worked out quite well for me,'' he said.

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