Childhood & Early Life
Stewart Jason Downing was born on July 22, 1984, to Kerry Downing and Stewart Downing Sr., in Middlesbrough, England. He was raised at Ellesmere Walk, in Pallister Park. Stewart’s sister, Vicky, was diagnosed with leukemia and died in 1993, at the age of 4.
He had an innate passion for football at an early age and trained at the ‘Marton Football Club’ with his father every morning. There, he met Keith Scurr, ‘Marton’s coach, who helped hone his talent.
He attended the ‘Pallister Park Primary School.’ There, he met Mick Waterfield, the school football coach. He joined the school team and played in a few competitions.
He was part of the team that won the ‘Reebok Spirit of the Street’ competition, which had over 2,000 national teams participating in it.
When he joined the ‘Keldholme Secondary School,’ he was already a member of the ‘Marton FC’ and was frequently voted for the ‘Players’ Player of the Year’ honor by his club mates.
He played on the under-9 team until he was 14. Following this, he joined ‘Seaham Red Star’ and played for them for a few years.
He then joined ‘Middlesbrough F.C.’ when he was 17, after trying for clubs such as the ‘Blackburn Rovers,’ ‘Chelsea,’ ‘Manchester United,’ ‘Sunderland,’ and ‘Everton.’
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Downing debuted with ‘Middlesbrough’ on April 24, 2002, in a ‘Premier League’ match against ‘Ipswich Town.’ He did not play much for the rest of the season or in the next, making just three appearances in each season.
On October 1, 2002, in a league match against ‘Brentford,’ he scored his first senior goal. They were able to clinch a 4–1 victory in the match.
In 2003, he was loaned to ‘Sunderland’ for a month. He scored 3 goals in 7 matches. He made 1 of the 3 goals that helped ‘Sunderland’ win against ‘Gillingham.’ He was recalled in December, after Juninho was injured. By then, Downing had scored as many goals as ‘Middlesbrough’s top scorer, Szilárd Németh.
In the 2004–2005 season, he made 6 goals and 49 appearances. Due to his good performance in the ‘UEFA Cup’ (2004) match against ‘Lazio,’ he was invited to the English squad for a friendly match against the Netherlands.
Due to a knee injury, he was inactive in the second half of 2005. He returned for the ‘2006 UEFA’ and played in the finals.
He signed a new 5-year contract with ‘Middlesbrough’ on February 26, 2008. ‘Middlesbrough’ fell into the relegation zone in November 2008. He applied for a transfer in the hopes of leaving the club on January 5, 2009, but his appeal was immediately rejected.
In the final match of the season in May 2009, he suffered a foot injury while playing against ‘Aston Villa.’ It ruled him out for 4 months, as he needed surgery. His season ended with only 2 goals against ‘West Ham United’ in the ‘FA Cup.’
‘Aston Villa’ signed him for £10 million in 2009, after the relegation of ‘Middlesbrough.’ He played his first match for the club against ‘Burnley,’ as a substitute for Steve Sidwell. He scored his first league goal for them against ‘Portsmouth’ on December 1, 2009.
On February 2, 2010, Downing scored 2 goals for ‘Villa,’ against ‘Burnley,’ helping them clinch a 5–2 victory. Following this, he played against ‘West Ham’ and ‘Liverpool,’ scoring a goal against each. His season total for 2010–2011 was 8 goals and 44 appearances.
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‘Aston Villa’ agreed to transfer him to ‘Liverpool’ on July 13, 2011, after they were paid an estimated fee of £20 million for him.
He played for ‘Liverpool’ in full 90-minute matches against ‘Sunderland’ and ‘Arsenal.’ He scored his first goal against ‘Oldham Athletic’ in the third round of the ‘FA Cup.’ His penalty shoot-out score in the ‘League Cup’ final helped ‘Liverpool’ win.
He scored the winning goal on March 18, 2012, against ‘Stoke City’ and helped ‘Liverpool’ reach the semi-finals of the ‘FA Cup.’ He scored another winner against ‘Gomel’ in the ‘UEFA Europa League.’ He scored the winning and the only goal against ‘Anzhi Makhachkala’ in the ‘Europa League.’
He scored once against ‘Fulham’ on December 22, 2012, and once against ‘Wigan Athletic’ on March 2, 2013. He also scored an equalizer against ‘Tottenham.’ He scored 5 goals in total in the season, the equalizer being his last for ‘Liverpool.’
On August 13, 2013, he was signed by ‘West Ham United’ for an estimated £5 million. He debuted on August 17 against ‘Cardiff City.’ He scored his first goal for them against ‘Tottenham’ on May 3, 2014.
In the 2014–2015 season, he scored against ‘Crystal Palace’ on August 23, 2014; against ‘Stoke City’ on November 1, 2014; and against ‘Sunderland’ on December 13, 2014. He ended the season by scoring a left-foot shot curling from 20 yards against ‘Leicester City,’ contributing to a win.
He returned to ‘Middlesbrough’ on July 16, 2015, after he signed a 4-year contract with them for an estimated amount of £5.5 million, subject to increase to £7 million, depending on the team’s promotion to the ‘Premier League.’
His first goal of the second spell for his team came against ‘Milton Keynes Dons’ on September 12, 2015. His team won 2–0. At the end of the 2018–2019 season, he was released by ‘Middlesbrough.’ He had made 404 appearances for the club in his two stints.
The ‘Blackburn Rovers’ signed him for a year on June 21, 2019. He scored his first goal for them against ‘Oldham Athletic’ on August 13, 2019.
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Stewart Downing made his international debut on February 9, 2005, against the Netherlands in a friendly match. He has made a total of 35 appearances for England.
In 2006, he was made part of the ‘World Cup’ squad. He played as a substitute in the second half of the winning match against Paraguay. He also played against Trinidad and Tobago.
His delivered his most prolific performance on August 16, 2006, when he started for England against Greece. He was involved in 3 of the 4 goals that England made and won the match.
He played the ‘Euro Qualifiers’ of 2008, and on March 26, he played against France in a friendly match. He played against the United States and Trinidad and Tobago in friendly matches and was again selected for the national squad.
He played against Montenegro at the ‘UEFA Euro 2012’ qualifier on October 12, 2010, replacing Aaron Lennon. He then played two more qualifiers, against Bulgaria and Wales. He assisted Ashley Young in scoring the only goal against Wales. The goal led them to victory.
He played against Spain and Sweden before he was chosen as part of the 23-man squad for the ‘UEFA Euro 2012 Tournament.’ He started against Norway on May 26 but did not make any other appearance in the entire tournament. However, he was called to play against Slovenia and Scotland in November 2014
Family & Personal Life
He dated Michaela Henderson-Thynne from 2003 to 2007. They broke up after she found out that he had fathered a child with another woman, Donna Moloney, while they were still dating. Not much is known about his daughter, Francesca.
He is married to his long-time partner, Michelle, since 2018.
He is involved in various charitable activities and supports the nationwide ‘No Messin’ Campaign’ to stop youngsters from playing on railway lines.
He raised funds for the ‘Royal Victoria Infirmary’ in New Castle in 2008 through a charity dinner with boxer Ricky Hatton as a special guest. This hospital was where his sister Vicky had been treated previously.
He reported his former agent, Ian Elliott, for suspicious handling of his business. Ian was arrested by ‘Cleveland Police’ in September 2008. Downing had to declare his assets in court due to this case.
He was arrested in Yarm along with his former girlfriend, in suspicion of assault, in early 2012. He was never charged but had to pay a fine. His former girlfriend, Donna Moloney, was found guilty of headbutting Downing’s friend.