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Defender reveals the reason why he left Middlesbrough to join Birmingham

In an interview with The Northern Echo, defender George Friend revealed exactly why he decided to not renew his contract at Middlesbrough to sign for Birmingham City.

Friend’s contract was up at the end of the previous campaign at Middlesbrough and manager Neil Warnock had offered him a new deal. However, the defender instead opted to move away from the Riverside in favour of Birmingham.

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When asked why he rejected Boro for Brum, Friend admitted that the new appointment of Aitor Karanka at St Andrews was the determining factor.

“Aitor is a big reason,” he said. “I had a successful time with him at Middlesbrough, and I know what he’s all about. I know that he’s looking to build something here, and the club has got ambition in that aspect.

“There’s a good feel around the place with his appointment. He was keen to bring me in, and I’m looking forward to getting going. I’m not sure I’ve been a first signing before at a club, but I guess I’ll take that honour.”

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Friend was a key part of the Boro side which was promoted under Karanka in 2016 and he arguably played the best football of his career whilst under the Spaniard’s guidance.

The 32-year old has been on Teesside since 2012, signing for a fee believed to be in the region of just £100,000 from Doncaster Rovers. Prior to his departure he had made nearly 300 appearances for the North-East club and had captained the side in recent seasons.

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