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Simon Mignolet Says The Win At Stoke Was A Turning Point In His Career

The Belgian goalkeeper says he’s come along way since his Anfield introduction in 2013

Stoke City v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi Final: First Leg Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

It’s fair to say that Simon Mignolet has had his ups and downs since he joined Liverpool. A tremendous shot-stopper on his best days, the Belgian has also struggled to address some flaws in his game. While he definitely kept Liverpool in some games they might have otherwise lost over the past few years, he’s also likely cost his side some points at other times. You definitely have to take the rough with the smooth when it comes to Simon.

At one point earlier in the season his flaws became so glaring that he lost his starting spot to newcomer Loris Karius. Had the German backup risen to the occasion it’s possible that Mignolet would find himself still relegated to understudy status— or perhaps be looking for another club this summer. As it happened, Karius had some issues of his own, and Mignolet was eventually let out of the doghouse.

Once he came back, he seemed determined to stay. Some strong performances in the latter half of the season, including four consecutive clean sheets in the last four games of the Premier League campaign, helped cement Mignolet as Liverpool’s #1.

In a recent interview, Mignolet says he knows what the turning point for him was— the 2-1 win at Stoke back in April. Being able to help his team hold on for the win— thanks in part to spectacular saves on Charlie Adam and Saido Berahino— gave Mignolet a huge boost in confidence and made him feel like he truly belonged in the team.

“There was a reason why Stoke was so important to me. As a goalkeeper, you don’t stand out much. It’s not the same as being a striker when you can score a goal and everyone notices what you have done. I had that moment in the first game of my Liverpool career when I made the penalty save against Stoke. But there is another thing about saving a penalty and that is people will always say ‘oh, he’s guessed the right way’. As a goalkeeper at Liverpool, you don’t get worked that much. So I needed a game to come along again and show what I could do. Everything about that came at such a great time. We were losing 1-0, the spirit wasn’t the best because everyone was thinking ‘here we go again’ and people would have thought it was a sign we were going to miss out on the Champions League. So this was such a changing moment, for me and for the club. I had a chance to show what I could be for this team. It’s changed my career a bit.”

A lot of things went right for Liverpool in the run-in on the Top 4 race at the end of the season. Mignolet getting his groove back was definitely one of them. Here’s hoping he can keep this going into next season— and into the Champions League.

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