DOHA, Qatar -- Socceroos attacker Riley McGree has no second thoughts about leaving MLS side Charlotte FC and turning down interest from Scottish powerhouse Celtic to sign with English League Championship club Middlesbrough.
McGree, 24, joined MLS expansion side Charlotte FC from Adelaide United back in 2020, initially signed for a reported fee of $US590,000, but did not play a single minute for the North Carolinians.
He was loaned out to Birmingham City to secure match minutes ahead of his new side's entrance to the MLS, but Charlotte sporting director Zoran Krneta told The Athletic in January that the player's reluctance to make his way to the U.S. at the end of that deal led to him pursuing options to move the attacker on.
Fortunately for both parties, McGree's strong form with Birmingham led to a bidding war that saw him reject overtures from former Australia coach Ange Postecoglou and Celtic to sign for Middlesbrough for a $Aus4m fee that could rise as high as $Aus6m.
Now a member of the Socceroos' FIFA World Cup squad in Qatar and, at a minimum, shaping as one of the the team's most important attackers off the bench, McGree has no regrets about what transpired.
"I think the moment I made the decision, it was validated," McGree said. "Because I chose to do that and I wanted to do that. At the end of the day, I'll live by it and I'll stand by that decision.
"Definitely now being where I am here [at the World Cup], playing at Middlesbrough has contributed and helped that so I can't thank the club and the players enough."
Now in his second season at the Riverside Stadium, McGree has become a regular part of Middlesbrough's starting XI under former Manchester United player Michael Carrick, playing a variety of roles in Boro's midfield and attack.
"[Carrick is] a real calming presence," McGree said. "We kind of just go out there and express ourselves and play with a little bit of freedom in some kind of structure. Being the player he was, having the career he did, there's a lot to learn.
"I think you have to get used to that physical side [in the Championship] and if you hold on to the ball too much, you're either going to lose it or know about losing it. Coming into [Socceroos] camp, it's a little bit refreshing because you know you still have to be aware but you're not going to get laid out by someone."