Karl Darlow is enjoying every minute of Newcastle United’s Championship challenge – having become the club’s lucky omen.
Darlow has been between the posts for the last eight league games – and the club has won every one of them.
Newcastle stretched their lead at the top of the division to five points with a 2-0 win over Leeds United last weekend.
Darlow made a superb save to deny Eunan O’Kane before Dwight Gayle scored his second goal at Elland Road.
And Darlow – who started the season on the bench and was recalled to the starting XI in late September – is looking for United to stretch their winning run in all competitions to 10 games when Blackburn Rovers visit St James’s Park on Saturday.
Reflecting on his remarkable return to the starting XI, the 26-year-old said: “I just enjoy football.
“It’s a short career and you need to make sure you enjoy it every time you go out on the pitch.
“To represent this massive football club is incredible. I just want it to continue as long as possible.”
Darlow – who previously played in the Championship with former club Nottingham Forest – made a one-handed save to deny O’Kane early in the second half at Elland Road
“It went through someone’s legs,” he said.
“It was just a reaction save, and then Jamaal (Lascelles) mopped up well. We defended very well throughout. We didn’t give them too much.
“The only danger we thought they’d have was set-pieces. They had a couple of headers first-half, but nothing major. On the whole we defended very well. It was a good team performance.”
Leeds goalkeeper Robert Green had a less memorable afternoon, having made a mistake for Gayle’s first goal.
Asked if he felt for Green, Darlow said: “I was just delighted that we scored. We’ll take a goal however it comes.”
Newcastle have conceded just three goals away from home all season.
“Obviously, we’ve got confidence in our ability, but it’s a just a case of not getting carried away and maintaining momentum,” said Darlow.
“We’ve got to concentrate and focus on every single game, which is what we do at the moment, which is brilliant.”
One challenge was to silence the crowd, with the club having sold out Elland Road for the first time in six years.
“I think we were allowed to play a lot of football, especially at the back,” said Darlow.
“That helped us build into the game. We played a lot of good stuff in the first 40 minutes, and then they had about seven corners in a row.
“We did really well to start off with. Dwight’s got a great goal, a poacher’s goal. We just went on from there.”
On Gayle’s second strike, Darlow added: “I think Jack (Colback) mishit a ball and Dwight’s done very well to anticipate whatever’s come off their goalkeeper.
“It was unbelievable for us, as it put us 1-0 up away from home. It really set us up to be strong throughout the game.”