SIMON MIGNOLET might be enjoying the best season of his career, but the goalkeeper doesn't have to look very far to know how quickly things can change.
Mignolet has been hailed as one of the best shot-stoppers in the Premier League after some match-winning performances for Sunderland and will collect the North-East Football Writers' Association Player of the Year award tomorrow night.
You won't catch the Belgium international talking about personal accolades, though, because he is well aware that a footballer's career can take a turn for the worse at any time.
When Mignolet arrived on Wearside in 2010, £9million Craig Gordon was the club's number one, but injury to the Scotsman meant the 24-year-old was thrown straight into first-team action.
Gordon recovered three months later and regained his starting place, but several recurrences of a serious knee injury have seen the former Hearts man all but hang up his boots.
Since his release from Sunderland in the summer, Gordon hasn't joined another club and after some casual coaching work at Scottish Second Division side Dumbarton, it seems the £9m man's playing career is over.
Mignolet, who is one of 11 players to have played every minute in the Premier League this season, admits he is saddened by his former team-mate and friend's situation, but insists he must use it as a reminder of what can happen in football.
He said: "I hope it stays that way until the end of the season. It is down to a bit of luck because you can easily get suspended or injured.
"That can easily happen. Look at Craig Gordon. We spoke a lot together when we were in the dressing room, but I've not seen him recently.
"I have only seen what I have read in the newspapers, but it is very sad. That's how it comes over and I need to speak to him about his situation."
Having made his first Premier League start two months after moving to England, Mignolet had to adapt to the pressures of being a Premier League goalkeeper quite quickly.
Until now, he has dropped only one clanger - which came against today's opponents West Brom earlier this season - but Mignolet believes every keeper must learn to accept their mistakes.
He said: "When you make a decision to become a goalkeeper you have to accept it is a tough place and you can be in the head of a storm. "You can be in a place when everyone is cheering your name and when they are jeering. Every single goal goes past you. It's not like being a striker where some goals are his and others are nothing to do with him.
"As a goalie, every single goal that is scored, you have to accept the first question is, could he have stopped that. You have to accept that."