SAFE-HANDS Simon Mignolet met adoring Black Cats fans at a special signing session in the city.
The dependable Belgian international goalkeeper has starred for Sunderland this season, and last month was awarded the North East Football Writers’ Player of the Year honour.
Scores of supporters queued outside the Stadium of Light club shop to meet the stopper.
Eleven-year-old Jack Wood, of Peterlee, and Kyle Hubery, also 11, of Esh Winning, were among the fans who were eager to meet their hero.
Mignolet is sure to be kept busy this weekend, with Sunderland visiting Stamford Bridge to take on current European champions Chelsea in what will be new boss Paolo Di Canio’s first game in charge of the Wearsiders.
The Italian, a striker who played for Lazio, Celtic and West Ham United, was appointed head coach after Martin O’Neill’s sacking last weekend.
His first week at the Stadium of Light has been a tough one, amid concerns from politicians, miners leaders, war veterans and the church about his reported political allegiances.
However, much of that was quelled when Di Canio released a statement, saying he “does not support the ideology of fascism”.