SIMON Mignolet last night spoke of his pride at joining the list of Sunderland legends to have won the North East Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award.
The Black Cats’ Belgian goalkeeper beat off stiff competition, most notably from Newcastle’s Tim Krul, Demba Ba, Fabricio Coloccini and Hatem Ben Arfa to win the prestigious award.
In doing so, he joined a list of Sunderland stars like Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn, Thomas Sorensen and Marco Gabbiadini in being recognised as the North East’s outstanding performer across 2012.
Mignolet told the Echo: “If you can be added to that list, then you’re a very proud man.
“I’m very pleased to be presented with the award and if you can earn this sort of recognition as a goalkeeper as well, then it makes it even more special.
“When you see the names that are on the trophy, then you can only be very proud to see your name added to them.
“It’s huge recognition and to be voted for by the journalists as well was something I wasn’t expecting at this stage of my career.
“I only got back from injury on the first day of 2012, coming straight back into the team after having my nose and eye socket broken.
“We won the game and kept a clean sheet and from then on it was a very good year for me.
“That was also a good day for the team because after that game it set us up to be safe pretty soon after that – certainly soon than we expected.
“And to finish the year with another win against Manchester City on Boxing Day was a nice symmetry.”