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Mignolet not phased by mistake
IN a season full of match-winning saves Simon Mignolet has only one stand out blot on his copybook.
The Belgian goalkeeper will be reminded of his only clanger this season when Sunderland visit West Brom tomorrow, but while some shot-stoppers would prefer not to talk about their mistakes, Mignolet looks back on his in a positive manner.
Almost two months ago the 24-year-old made what he described as the 'worst mistake of his career' when he fumbled Chris Brunt's overhit pass, allowing Shane Long to nip in and tap into an empty net to put West Brom two-up.
The Black Cats went on to lose 4-2 that day, but while such a mistake might have crushed a young goalkeeper's confidence, Mignolet recovered quickly with a little help from the Stadium of Light crowd.
"You have to remember the position I found myself in when I made that mistake; the fans started clapping and shouting my name, and in the dressing room the players, manager and coaches were behind me," Mignolet recalled.
"This makes it easier to deal with any mistake you make, especially the sort of thing in the West Brom game.
"Sometimes football goes against you, sometimes you struggle and it feels like everything is going against you, but I really appreciated the fans reaction that day. That was a big help.
"Every mistake you make is one too much. But on the other hand you learn from these moments. It's not always a bad thing, as long as you learn from it and keep going.
"You can then do one of two things. You either let yourself go down or you can lift your head and think about the next moment when you will be called into action - that's what I try to do. And make sure that it doesn't happen again."
That's exactly what the former Sint-Truiden player has done and in the process he has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.
The 6ft 4 keeper has been Sunderland's hero on several occasions and his displays for Martin O'Neill's side have earned him huge praise from all quarters.
However, in the midst of injuries the 24-year-old was catapulted into first-team duties and has kept his place as Sunderland's number one despite the arrival of Republic of Ireland international Keiren Westwood.
On Sunday, he will collect the North-East Football Writers' Association Player of the Year award at a star-studded bash at Durham's Ramside Hall, but the ever-modest Belgian prefers not to talk about personal accolades.
His manager has described him as an 'absolute gem' but Mignolet continues to play his performances down and insists his ever-improving reputation could be harmed at any point.
He said: "I never speak about any of my colleagues because, for me, if you can be a goalie in the Premier League then you can play anywhere. It's as simple as that.
"I never think in terms about who is the best in the league. Anyone who has a contract with a Premier League team is a very capable goalkeeper.
"I don't think about what people think of me. Football is a team game first and foremost.
"I am pleased with how things have gone up until now, but my good season can turn into a bad one over the remaining games. So I only look forward to the matches I need to play.''
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