Victor Valdes has 'massive part to play', says Middlesbrough boss Steve Agnew
Victor Valdes is bringing the same intensity to Middlesbrough's fight for Premier League survival as he did to the quest for World Cup and Champions League glory.
The 35-year-old keeper, who won everything there is to win in the game with Barcelona and Spain before heading for Teesside, finds himself in the unaccustomed position of battling against relegation as promoted Boro attempt to avoid an immediate return to the Sky Bet Championship.
That process will continue on Monday evening when Arsenal head for the Riverside Stadium, and interim head coach Steve Agnew is confident Valdes' winning mentality remains as keen as it ever was.
Agnew said: "Victor, we all know what he's achieved in the game. He's won everything and what he does bring is the bigger the game for Victor Valdes, the more he responds because his career tells you that.
"He'll have a massive part to play within the team for Monday night."
Valdes' list of honours includes World Cup and European Championship winners' medals with his country as well as three Champions League successes and six LaLiga titles as a Barca player.
But for all his undoubted talent, Agnew insists it is his hard work on the training ground which has made him what he is, and that provides a great example for his team-mates.
He said: "You don't win and achieve like Victor Valdes has done in his career without being focused every day. Whatever we are doing he's fully focused, he is 100 per cent committed and he's a top, top professional."
At just 24, central defender Ben Gibson's career is still in its formative stages, although such has been his development that a series of Premier League rivals are monitoring his situation should the worst happen to his home-town club.
Champions Leicester are the latest to be credited with an interest in a player who has already been linked with the Gunners, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool among others, although Agnew insists the man himself will not be fazed by the attention.
He said: "Ben has had a terrific season and he's got a fantastic future in front of him. He's had a recent call-up to the England squad and we are all so proud of him.
"But he's a Middlesbrough player, he's a Middlesbrough boy and Ben is focused on only one thing, and that's the game against Arsenal on Monday night."
Agnew will have George Friend and Gaston Ramirez available after injury on Monday evening, but Arsenal loanee Calum Chambers cannot play against his parent club.