London - Middlesbrough captain Ben Gibson labelled his team's relegation from the Premier League as the worst moment of his life after a 3-0 defeat against Chelsea sent them back to the Championship on Monday.
Just one year after winning promotion, Middlesbrough will
return to the second-tier having paid the price for a lacklustre campaign which
has so far featured only five wins from 36 league games.
Their fate was sealed at Stamford Bridge by goals from Chelsea
trio Diego Costa, Marcos Alonso and Nemanja Matic.
Steve Agnew's side, the Premier League's lowest scorers this
season with 26 goals, join Sunderland as the second top-flight team to be
relegated this term.
They have been relegated from the Premier League for a
record-equalling fourth time and it was more than Gibson could take.
The 24-year-old, nephew of the club's long-time owner Steve
Gibson, was a picture of dejection as the reality of Middlesbrough's plight hit
home and he admitted he had never felt worse.
"It was the lowest point of my career. In fact it's the
lowest point of my life, not just my career. It means that much," Gibson
Having sacked Aitor Karanka earlier in the year,
Middlesbrough hoped interim boss Agnew could spark a great escape.
But that ambition quickly fell flat and Gibson conceded
there was plenty of blame to pass around.
"It's not just tonight, it's a full season. From top to
bottom we haven't been good enough. Players, staff, myself. We've got to put
that right," he said.
The only people associated with Middlesbrough to emerge with
any credit from their trouncing in west London were the loyal fans who made the
long trip down from the north-east and never stopped singing throughout the
Even Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was impressed and he made
a point of going to applaud them at full-time.
Aware of how much they have let down those die-hards, Gibson promised to make amends next season.
"It could have been 6-0, but the fans didn't stop
singing, wherever we've been this season they've been the same," he said.
"The fans deserve Premier League football and we have to find a team to do that. We have to reflect on what's gone wrong."