SIMON Mignolet’s stunning form has been recognised after the Sunderland keeper was named North East Football Writers’ Association’s player of the year for 2012.
Mignolet pipped Newcastle United midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa to land the prize, in one of the tightest votes in the award’s 32-year history.
The Belgian started every Premier League game in 2012 after being recalled to the starting XI in New Year’s Day success over Manchester City and produced a number of superb saves.
He becomes the third Sunderland player to win the award in four years after Danny Collins in 2009 and Darren Bent in 2010.
Mignolet said: “It is always a good thing to win individual awards as a footballer.
“Of course you want to win medals and trophies, but any individual accolade is always nice and I am very pleased.
“It is very kind of the journalists to vote for me.
“Obviously I know there is tough competition between the three teams, particularly between Sunderland and Newcastle, and there have been some very good players in the teams this year and some very good individual performances.
“There are a lot of big names on the trophy, including some top goalkeepers and it is an honour for me. I could not be more pleased to be among them and picking it up at the age of 24.”
Mignolet’s victory was part of a double success for North East goalkeepers, with Middlesbrough’s Jason Steele picking up the young player of the year prize, while Newcastle’s Tim Krul was third in the overall vote.
The Sunderland man becomes the fifth North East stopper to win the award after Jim Platt, Stephen Pears, Thomas Sorensen and Shay Given (twice).
Mignolet will be presented with his award at the NEFWA annual dinner at the Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham on Sunday, February 24.
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation’s personality of the year award will also be presented, as well as presentations to Carlisle United captain Peter Murphy, in his testimonial year, and Hetton-born Team GB goalscorer extraordinaire Stephanie Houghton.
For ticket details, please contact Claire Stephen at the Ramside on (0191) 3753080 or ClaireStephen@ramsidehallhotel.co.uk