RR: How important has Grant been to Boro since signing from Ipswich back in 2012?
JL: He joined the club during a huge transitional period for us. Mogga (Tony Mowbray) was trying to bring some identity back to the club.
Our main midfielder had left in Barry Robson and the fans were worried. Grant came straight in and made an impact. He was a catalyst in our change of fortunes over the years.
As soon as Aitor Karanka came in and our current captain (Rhys Williams) was struggling with injuries, he made Grant captain and what a masterstroke that was. Without a doubt, our best captain since Gareth Southgate.
During our 2016 promotion season, we did hit some sticky patches, but Grant was always there to pull us through. How important has he been? I think he has been our most important player.
RR: Why has he featured so little for Boro this season?
JL: This I don’t know. Personally, I think he is better than Mo Besic and Adam Clayton.
But maybe Pulis is looking at his age and thinks he can’t rely on him to be the captain that he once was.
RR: Do you think he could still play at Championship level?
JL: Yes. I think he could easily play one or two games a week at a good standard.
He may have bad games, but who doesn’t? He can still hit a great cross-field pass and drive a team on.
RR: Have you been impressed with his performances?
JL: When he has played this season I have.
His last game was in the cup against Peterborough and he controlled the game from the middle to let Lewis Wing do his thing.
RR: What can Sunderland fans expect from Leadbitter?
JL: You can not deny that he loves Sunderland.
This is a move that will keep the fire burning inside him, which is a huge part of his game.
If he moved on to another championship club, it would have been to just play football. The fact that he is going to his boyhood club to fight for promotion will excite him which means you will see the best Grant Leadbitter.
Running games, scoring goals and making your team a success.
RR: Are you surprised that he has taken a huge pay cut to move back to his boyhood club?
JL: Nah, not at all. The guy oozes class. This just makes me love him more, to be honest.
RR: Sunderland lack a bit of extra physicality, will Grant help give us that midfield strength?
JL: In abundance. He doesn’t stop and never shirks from a challenge.
RR: Finally, are you sad to see Grant leave Boro?
JL: Massively. My favourite player by far over the last 10 years.
I have felt proud when calling him my clubs captain. Middlesbrough Football Club are better for having Grant Leadbitter, hopefully, he is better for having Middlesbrough Football Club.
I hope he is a huge part of building his hometown club in becoming the force it should be. As long as it’s not at Boro’s expense like!
RR: Cheers Jimmy and good luck for the rest of the season.