Devon born and bred, George Friend started his career at Exeter City, he made his Exeter debut as a 19 year old in April 2006 against Forest Green Rovers. He was an integral part of The Grecians’ side who won promotion to the football league in the 2007/08 season and was the youngest captain in the club’s history. Wolverhampton Wanderers came knocking, after being promoted to the Premier League. Friend made his Premier League debut against Manchester United; but only made seven appearances for Wolves. In 2010, Friend made the move to Yorkshire where he signed for Doncaster Rovers; becoming an crucial part of their team, eventually becoming captain in the 2011/12 season and winning player of the season at the Keepmoat.

On July 23rd 2012, George Friend touched down on Teesside, signing for Tony Mowbray’s Middlesbrough for £100,000 – in hindsight an absolute bargain! He made his debut in the Capital One Cup against Bury and become a regular in the club’s Championship campaign that season. Friend slowly became a fan favourite, both on the pitch for his hard work and determination and off the pitch for his work in the local community. The latter resulted in Friend being awarded Community Player of the Year and Player’s Player. As the 2013/14 season beckoned, he was given the number 3 shirt and continued his strong performances as left back, scoring his first Boro goal in a 2-2 draw against Wigan Athletic.

Middlesbrough want to sign Tomas Kalas on loan from Chelsea for a third time | Daily Mail Online
George Friend and Tomas Kalas. Credit: Ian Hodgson, Daily Mail

The full back first captained Boro in 2015 under Aitor Karanka and played a key role of the unsuccessful play off final team of 2015 and eventually winning promotion to the Premier League in 2016. Friend had cemented himself as a cult hero, notably as a result of clapping every corner of The Riverside after every Boro match regardless of result and putting 100% in every game he played for the club. He held his left back position for a bulk of his eight year period on Teesside, his last season at Boro was plagued by injuries and only made six appearances before the re start in June 2020.

After six managers, eight years, 266 games and 10 goals; the curtain came down for the final time on George Friend’s (affectionately known by many fans as Gorgeous George) Middlesbrough career. He made the move back to the Midlands, signing for old boss Aitor Karanka’s Birmingham City, alongside former Boro team mate Adam Clayton. Although he’s moved on to pastures new, he’ll always be held in high regard by Boro fans for his services to the club during his time on Teesside and is undoubtedly a modern club hero.

George Friend's departure confirmed as popular defender turns down Middlesbrough deal to join Birmingham City | Hartlepool Mail
Credit: Hartlepool Mail

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