Goalkeeper Liam Roberts couldn’t hide his delight as he discussed his ‘amazing’ Middlesbrough move. A huge grin donned the face of the former Northampton Town shot-stopper as he spoke for the first time of his move to the Boro, but there was a steely determination too as he insisted he was here to ‘stake his claim’ to play games .
Roberts signed a two-year deal to move to Teesside on a free transfer this summer as his contract with the Cobblers came to an end after a hugely impressive season in League Two. He is Chris Wilder’s first senior signing of the summer transfer window as the Boro boss looks to revamp his squad ahead of a promotion challenge in the Championship next season.
With Wilder still looking to strengthen his goalkeeping department, Roberts is initially expected to be the backup option and cup goalkeeper but at 27 still has years of development in him with the potential to improve yet further still and establish himself as first choice in time.
And while Roberts himself understands that in making the jump from League Two to the Championship will mean far more competition for the place in the team this season, he is prepared to work hard, push to improve his game and prove himself capable of making the step up.
speaking to the club website after completing his move, he said: “This is an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I’m so grateful to the club and the coaching staff and now I’m ready to get to know all the lads and really kick on and get ready for the season.
“This move is about testing myself and also providing myself at a higher level. I feel like I’m capable of doing that and I’m just looking forward to the season ahead now.
“It’s an opportunity to play at the highest possible level and my aim is to impact the team as much as possible. This is a team that want to progress and want to be promoted and I’m happy to be apart of that. I’ll be looking to play as many games as possible and it’s a massive opportunity to provide myself.
“It’s exciting to have a manager with that pedigree pushing you and encouraging you to get better, that’s an incredible opportunity. I’m here to push and I’m here to progress. We know exactly what the team objective is and I’m happy to be here and I’m looking to stake my claim to play games.”
Roberts is the first signing for Boro this summer in what is expected to be a busy one. Many more arrivals are expected between now and the end of August, with Wilder clear in his sights for the season ahead.
The 27-year-old shot-stopper arrives on the back of a magnificent campaign at Northampton that saw him claim Player and Players’ Player of the Year awards and also make the PFA League Two Team of the Season after keeping an impressive 21 clean sheets .
Out of contract at Northampton, the Cobblers made clear their desire to keep him this summer and his future was still uncertain when he went on holiday to Greece at the end of last season – which is when he learned of Boro’s interest. He couldn’t help but grin widely as he was asked how the move to Teesside came about.
“I was sitting on a sun lounger in Greece and I got a phone call saying Middlesbrough were interested,” he said. “I just said, ‘Listen, let’s get this sorted straight away’.
“I was willing to come back home early from my holiday I was that excited. I was just speechless really. This is an incredible club with a lot of history and an unbelievable set of fans. Football is in the veins up here and I’m just so happy to be here.
“I’m still getting used to everything at the minute like my surroundings and the facilities which are just amazing. I’m just trying to take it all in at the moment and I’m in a little bubble and I just don’t want it to burst because it’s an amazing experience.”