New boy Dael Fry has revealed that Rotherham United were his No 1 choice as soon as the Millers made their approach about a season-long loan move.
Rotherham won the battle for the Middlesbrough centre-half’s signature in the face of competition from rival sides and the teenager made an impressive debut in last Saturday’s Championship 2-2 home draw against Bristol City.
“There were a few other clubs but I always wanted to come here,” Fry said.
Alan Stubbs’ persistence paid off when the 19-year-old headed to New York Stadium on deadline day and the Millers boss’s past career as a Premier League central defender played a big part in the deal.
The manager said: “I know because of the amount of phone calls I made to Middlesbrough that they took their time and were really careful in terms of which club they wanted to send him to.”
Fry revealed: “The manager was definitely a factor in me coming here because he can talk to me, and I’m delighted he has put his faith in me It takes a lot to put in a young lad at centre-half.”
After his performance last weekend, the youngster is likely to keep his place for tomorrow night’s visit of Nottingham Forest and he can’t wait to sample the New York experience again.
“It was unbelievable to come out and hear such a good reception,” he said. “All the lads have welcomed me in, and to make to my debut was unbelievable.
“I thought I did okay defensively but I did not get on the ball much and maybe step out. It was one of those games where we were tucked in during the second half and just defending.
“At Middlesbrough, we keep the ball a lot and play out from the back, so I have got that in my game.”
Stubbs added: “I thought he did well. He’s a young player who’s got a lot of potential. He was up against another player (striker Tammy Abraham, on loan from Chelsea) who’s got a lot of potential, another one we were trying to get hold of. It’s unfortunate that that wasn’t the case.
“Dael’s display gave a lot of cause for optimism. I think he can be happy with his performance.”
Fry is highly rated by his top-flight parent club who are keen for him to gain first-team experience with the Millers.
“He has all the attributes,” Stubbs said. “He’s 6ft 3in tall, has good pace, reads the game well and is comfortable on the ball. Middlesbrough really do think an awful lot about him. He signed a five-year deal and has been rewarded for the potential he has showed up to now.
“I said to him the other day, it will be the first of many if he keeps showing the progression he has. It was similar to me when I was that age - contracts come very quickly, and he doesn’t have to worry about off the pitch, but just focus on the pitch.
“If he does that, he has a very, very good career ahead of him.”