He was signed by his hometown club Sunderland for £10 million in 2012.
Johnson played at various levels for England, earning 12 caps at senior level.
In 18 August match at Scunthorpe United, he missed a penalty awarded for a foul on Rhys Williams and scored another after being tripped by the Scunthorpe goalkeeper in the penalty box when both went for the rebound.
He scored a brace for the third time in the season when he turned in a man of the match performance against Doncaster Rovers on 26 January to end Boro's winless away streak stretching back to October.
He has terrific ability, great delivery and I'm sure he is a player who will excite the fans.
I couldn't be more delighted to have him at the club." After losing his place in the starting line up, the FA Cup third round match with Carlisle United marked a turning point in Johnson's fortunes as he scored a free kick and played a part in both other goals in Sunderland's 3–1 win.
Prostitutes nicknamed him "Mondeo Man" and "Silver-Backed Gorilla", because of his hair colour and stocky build, and some said he liked dressing up in tight women's clothing, and wearing a black curly wig.Later on in the season, he came on as a substitute in the FA Cup replay with Bristol City and played a vital role in seeing Middlesbrough through to the next round by setting up one goal and scoring the winning penalty in the shootout.He led the Boro scoring charts, with eight goals, for the entire first half of the season despite being a winger, which led to new manager Gordon Strachan expressing his concern about overrelying on Johnson for goals.Johnson's first goal for Middlesbrough came in a midweek Premier League match away to Bolton Wanderers on , opening the scoring in a 1–1 draw with "a mazy run from the left flank before curling in a deflected shot".On 16 October 2006, he joined Leeds United on a month-long loan after being signed by Leeds' caretaker manager John Carver, but with Leeds struggling in the Championship, it was hard for Johnson to impress despite getting the man of the match award on his debut.