Steele out to prove he is made of strong stuff
FOOTBALL has a tendency to bring you back down to earth with a bump and Jason Steele admits he has encountered that at Middlesbrough within the last fortnight. But after suffering the frustration of making a match-deciding error in the defeat at Doncaster a week ago on the back of celebrating a new fiveyear contract with a home win over Cardiff, Steele insists he is made of strong stuff. Middlesbrough's promising, first-choice goalkeeper has, like any other, made mistakes since becoming a goalkeeper during his school days and through his Academy years. But the timing of last Friday's fumble, when he was unable to prevent the strike from distance from Brian Stock squirming through deep into injury-time, made it even more difficult to bear. Steele is a strong character and has a maturity beyond his 20 years. Such maturity, he hopes, will ensure the experience at the Keepmoat Stadium will make him a better goalkeeper in the long term. I made a save in the 94th minute at Doncaster when I tipped a shot over the bar and I thought I had earned us a point. It was a game we should have won because we missed some great chances, said Steele, ahead of Boxing Day's visit of Nottingham Forest. Then, with the last kick, that happened. Everyone makes mistakes. It is one that I will get over quickly. It was a weird shot to deal with. Come Sunday, if one comes towards me, I will make sure I save it. I spoke to Stephen Pears on Monday. It was a case of getting back on with it. I was quickly over it. I was not happy over the weekend because I care and I don't like losing. I just like winning, I will get over it. If you watch the Premier League, or the Football League show, goalkeepers make a lot of mistakes. I hold my hands up, I did make an error on Friday night, I just hope that acts as a spur to ensure I don't make many more. While the events of last Friday remain in his mind, Steele knows he has the confidence of those around him, with manager Tony Mowbray and his backroom team satisfied Middlesbrough have a shotstopper with huge promise. It's been an exciting couple of weeks for me, bar last Friday, said Steele. You have to move on. I signed my contract, we beat Cardiff and that was a good week for me. I'm always searching for things I can improve and I want to get us out of this mess as quickly as possible. To sign a contract gives me and the club some stability. It ends a bit of an unsettling period. Thankfully it is all over with and I can concentrate on football again. Having stepped up to become an England Under-21 international this season, Steele's progress caught the eye of Arsenal and Aston Villa when they learned he was out of contract in the summer. But after committing to the club until the summer of 2015 he represents a rare glimmer of stability ahead of six months that is likely to lead to huge change at the Riverside. It's stabilising knowing the club see me as one for the future as well as the present, said Steele. Hopefully I can build on that and vice versa. We have to get out of this position we are in, there are going to be changes. He has told us, he has told the press, so when those changes are made then we have to make sure everyone feels welcome and the unit is one. That is the only way forward. This season might not have gone the way most observers expected last August, with Middlesbrough being tipped for automatic promotion back to the Premier League under Gordon Strachan. There is no-one more surprised by the club's predicament than Steele and he is looking for Middlesbrough to close the four-point gap which exists to fifth bottom Sheffield United with a victory over Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day. First and foremost we have to win a few games and get us out of the relegation pack, said Steele, knowing only goal difference spares them from third bottom. This season has to be about making sure we are still in the Championship. The gaffer will do his business and then he will have a full preseason with the squad, his squad, and that is the big thing. This is still a massive club and for us to be where we are now is not good enough.
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