SIMON MIGNOLET admits he struggled to keep his switch to Anfield under wraps until he was confirmed as a Liverpool player.
The Belgian goalkeeper last night completed the formalities of his move to Merseyside after agreeing terms on a five-year deal with Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Mignolet was always likely to depart Sunderland this summer once it became clear that he was unlikely to pen an extension to his contract at the Stadium of Light, as first revealed by the Echo earlier this month.
And once Liverpool beat off competition from Arsenal, Manchester United and Napoli to agree a fee with Sunderland last weekend, the 24-year-old’s fate was effectively sealed.
But Mignolet insists he has kept his counsel despite the speculation, for fear of jinxing the deal, after bringing an end to his three-year stint on Wearside.
“I tried to keep this as quiet as I could because there are a lot of things that have to be finalised before you sign,” said Mignolet.
“I kept it quiet because I know my friends and family, they’d get excited.
“But they’re happy and hopefully they can come over for a lot of the games. I think they will be proud.
“I’ve spoken to him (Rodgers) a few times already and I’m very pleased. He is very ambitious, like I am.
“Let’s hope we can win a lot of games and finish as high up the table as we can.”
The £12million sale of Mignolet represents a huge return for Sunderland, who paid lowly Belgian outfit St Truiden around £2m in the summer of 2010, on the recommendation of then goalkeeping coach Nigel Spink.
Mignolet made 101 appearances during three seasons with the Black Cats, including 30 clean sheets in 90 Premier League outings.
But his stunning form last season did not go unnoticed, despite Sunderland’s struggles in the top flight relegation battle.
That raised the possibility of Mignolet leaving the club and the loss of his international place to Athletico Madrid’s on-loan Chelsea stopper Thibault Courtois further weakened Sunderland’s hand.
Mignolet faces a fight for his place at Anfield though if he is to dislodge long-term custodian Pepe Reina, although doubts remain over the Spaniard’s future at the club.
Yet Mignolet, who held off the challenge of fellow internationals Craig Gordon and Keiren Westwood during his time on Wearside, is confident he can establish himself.
“Competition can only be a good thing,” he said.
“I’ve been in big competitions wherever I’ve been – in Belgium with the national team and in Sunderland with Craig Gordon and Keiren Westwood, who are international goalies.
“Now it’s the same again with Pepe and with Brad (Jones).
“It’s a challenge but that’s what you want. You want to play in the big games, you want to play for a big club and to play with pressure.
“I’m very confident in myself and I can’t wait to get the first clean sheet under my belt.”