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Australia international Rhys Williams today spoke of his dream of helping Boro reach the Premier League after signing a new four-and-a-half year contract.
The talented 23-year-old has attracted interest from a host of top-flight clubs with his assured displays both in central defence and at the heart of midfield.
But after penning the new deal he said he couldn’t be happier on Teesside and sees it as the perfect place to achieve his ambitions in the game.
“I’ve always said I wanted to stay,” he said. “I’m happy here and that’s the main thing. I’m settled and get on well with the manager and the lads.
“I’ve no reason to leave except for my dream of playing in the Premier League – and I want to get there with his club. My fiancée has settled here, I know the town and have a lot of friends here. I couldn’t be happier, to be honest.”
Perth-born Rhys joined Boro as a 16-year-old scholar and progressed through the club’s highly-acclaimed Academy system.
He can play any position in the back four and is also comfortable as a holding midfielder. His mother originates from Bombay while his father was born in Kent. Although he also qualified to play for India, England and Australia, Rhys represented Wales at U-21 level before making his full international debut for Australia in 2009.
He won rave reviews as he helped Burnley to promotion from the Championship while on loan at Turf Moor in 2009, playing at right-back.
However, he was forced to miss the 2010 World Cup with a persistent pelvic problem that led to him being given an extended period of rehab back in Australia during the first half of the 2010-11 campaign. But since returning to action he has become a key player in the side.
“The manager knows what I’m capable of and what I’m not so good at,” he said. “He sees me as a vital player. I don’t want to leave and be a squad player somewhere else. I want to be hopefully a major player for this club.
“He’s shown a lot of faith bringing in Jukey (Lukas Jutkiewicz) and trying to bring more players in. He’s trying to build something here and I want to be a part of that.”
Mowbray was equally pleased to know Williams will be part of his long-term plans as he looks to bring the good times back to Boro.
“Rhys is an important cog as we move forward trying to build a team to get us into the Premier League,” he said.
“This is an important statement from the club to try to tie down one of the players we feel we can move forward with.”
Chief Operating Officer Neil Bausor added: “We’re delighted Rhys has decided his future is with Middlesbrough Football Club.
“He’s been a key player for us in recent seasons and we hope he will continue to be for many more years to come.”