Karl Darlow’s going for gold in the Championship with Newcastle United – after a rollercoaster 12 months at St James’s Park.
The goalkeeper had a forgettable Premier League debut for the club a year ago.
That afternoon at West Brom was tough. I didn’t have a good game. In fact, I was terrible. I’m well aware of that. I just knew that from there, I had something to prove.Rafa Benitez
But he hasn’t looked back since getting a run in the team late last season in the absence through injury of Tim Krul and Rob Elliot.
Darlow was at fault for West Bromwich Albion’s winner at The Hawthorns on December 28 last year.
“I was devastated,” said the 26-year-old. “I couldn’t believe I had played so badly, because I knew in myself I was better than that and did not do myself justice.”
Darlow’s fortunes changed because of the misfortune of Krul and Elliot, who suffered season-ending knee injuries.
“I guess it’s been quite a journey looking back,” said Darlow, signed from Nottingham Forest two years ago.
“That afternoon at West Brom was tough. I didn’t have a good game. In fact, I was terrible. I’m well aware of that. I just knew that from there, I had something to prove.
“But I always thought my ability would get me through.
“You just go back to the training ground and wait for your next chance, which, for me, came sooner rather than later at Norwich away.
“I then had a good run in the team at the back end of last season. I always knew given a run of games, I’d be fine.
“So it was just a case of getting that run and building each and every week. I had done it before, and knew I had the qualities to get through.
“It’s sink or swim really. Either you get on with it and put it in the past, or you get yourself down by thinking ‘Oh God, I have to go back out there again’.
“For me, after that West Brom game, all I wanted to do was get out there and play and prove to everyone I was good enough to play and be at this football club.”
Darlow’s name is now chanted by United fans, who have changed the words of Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” in his honour.
“It’s amazing when it’s ringing around St James’ Park,” said Darlow, recalled to the starting XI in September by manager Rafa Benitez.
“It’s quite amazing. The away fans have been unbelievable all season.
“I think we are privileged to have the fans we have here.
“Thankfully, we are showing them we can play football and we are doing an awful lot better this season compared to what we did last season.
“We just need to keep growing.”