Ali Brownlee: Late BBC commentator inspires Middlesbrough - Aitor Karanka

Ali Brownlee and Aitor Karanka
Ali Brownlee and Aitor Karanka became friends through the former's work as Middlesbrough commentator.

Middlesbrough are intensifying their Premier League ambitions in tribute to late BBC Tees commentator Ali Brownlee, according to coach Aitor Karanka.

Brownlee, known as the 'Voice of the Boro', died last week, aged 56, after suffering from cancer.

Tributes are planned by the club and supporters at third-placed Boro's home game against Cardiff City on Tuesday.

"He will be looking down on us, he's an extra player and will always be supporting us," said Karanka.

Boro are currently just two points behind leaders Hull with a game in hand, with Burnley a point above them in second.

"I can't stop until we get to the Premier League. Ali was always saying and joking about how good we were in the Premier League [before the club were relegated in 2008-09], so I need to find out whether he was right," Karanka told BBC Tees.

The 42-year-old Spaniard built up a rapport with Brownlee through interviews, and appreciated the Teesside native's words of encouragement.

"I could feel how much he loved Boro, he was always joking and one of the few people who was always positive and supportive," he added.

For players such as local boy Jonathan Woodgate, Brownlee's affection for his local club was felt within the dressing room.

"Everyone loved him, his legacy will go on," defender Woodgate said.

"It was difficult, because the local lads have been brought up on Ali. The fans will give him the best send off and hopefully we'll get the three points we deserve."

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