Matthew Bates has insisted he has no regrets about his decision to remain at Middlesbrough rather than head back to the Premier League.
The versatile 22-year-old signed a new three-year deal with Boro at the end of last month despite their relegation to the Championship.
A number of top-flight clubs had been keen to secure his services but Bates admits a sense of loyalty helped him make his mind up.
Bates was one of Boro's rising young stars until three knee injuries hampered his progress but, with the help of the club, he fought back to establish himself among Gareth Southgate's setup last season.
"I made the right decision in the end, albeit a difficult one," he told the club's official website.
"I had the option to stay in the Premier League because there were several other clubs interested, but I feel staying with Middlesbrough was the right thing for me.
"It's my local club, I've been here since I was a young lad and I'm happy here.
"I'll be honest, there were times when I thought I would be leaving. It was about listening to my heart.
"I want to further my career but this club stood by me through my injuries so now I'm focused on helping them win promotion."