Johnson is now at his best, but concedes he was struggling when first moving from Manchester City.
"I think people were right to question my hunger last year," admitted a player nurtured by Middlesbrough's excellent academy staff. "I think that's fair. I was desperate to prove myself here, but when it didn't work out, I lost it," he told the Telegraph.
"It was the first time I'd gone through a spell like it. I was at a club that won all the time and I got stuck in a rut in a team that was struggling a bit.
"I didn't realise it had happened, but looking back it did. There were days when I just wasn't motivated. I wasn't myself. I was extremely frustrated. I couldn't get my head around it, but it has definitely made me a better player. I've learnt new things from difficult experiences. I'm out the other side.
"I don't know why I lost form, I still can't put my finger on it. I can't really put my finger on why it has come back. Things didn't come off, I kept trying to do the things I'd always done, but you lose the ball a couple of times and your confidence goes. I spent a few months doubting my decision to come here.
"I was in a dressing room that was hurting after defeats, not one that won 99 per cent of the time. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.
"But I wanted to come here and play every week and have that pressure of expectation. I didn't want to be a good player in a world-class team, I wanted to be a good player in a good team who was expected to win games for the team.
"I left City for the sake of my career. I'd won the FA Cup and the Premier League, I wanted to do something else. It's taken me some time for me to get into a place where I'm able to play like I wanted, but I feel I'm there now."
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