Rob Elliot has become one of the biggest voices in Newcastle United’s dressing room – but six months ago he feared he had no future at the club.
Elliot starred on the field in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
The 29-year-old – who will be in goal for this evening’s home game against Aston Villa – made a series of key first-half saves at White Hart Lane to keep United in the game.
And Elliot – the club’s third-choice goalkeeper at the start of the campaign – also played his part off the field, having roused his team-mates at the break when Newcastle trailed to a first-half Eric Dier goal.
Head coach Steve McClaren has previously admitted his dressing room has been too quiet at times.
Asked about Elliot, McClaren said: “Yes, (he is turning into a leader), absolutely.
“We spoke about half-times and the importance of leadership, and he was terrific. While we were tactically doing things, he was showing leadership.
“The rest followed on from that. Despite the goal we had just conceded, he was saying ‘look, everyone is expecting us to do this, let’s not do this but do that’. And they responded.”
Elliot thought his days at Newcastle were numbered in the summer as the recovered from a long-term thigh injury.
The Republic of Ireland international – who could go to Euro 2016 – was behind Tim Krul and Karl Darlow in the pecking order.
United chose not to reveal that he had signed a new contract early last year. However, Elliot, signed from Charlton in 2011, seized his chance with both hands after injuries sidelined Krul and Darlow.