Karl Darlow has lifted the lid on his determination to get Newcastle United back into the Premier League.
Darlow has been outstanding between the posts since being recalled to the starting XI in late September.
It was a tough lesson to learn for the team. I think it inspired everyone even more now. We want to get this club back up, because we feel responsible for going down.Karl Darlow
The 26-year-old replaced summer signing Matz Sels in goal for the home game against Norwich City, which Newcastle won 4-3 thanks to two injury-time goals.
Rafa Benitez’s table-topping Championship side – who take on Leeds United at a sold-out Elland Road on Sunday – have won every league and cup game since then.
Darlow, signed from Nottingham Forest in the summer of 2014, had a baptism of fire on his league debut for the club.
The goalkeeper was at fault for West Bromwich Albion’s goal in a 1-0 defeat for Newcastle at The Hawthorns in December last year.
Darlow, however, was able to put that behind him after Rob Elliot suffered a season-ending knee injury in March.
Darlow impressed in the final eight games of the season as Newcastle battled to stay in the top flight.
Reflecting on his first season proper at St James’s Park, Darlow said: “Coming to a new club, I was on the bench a lot of last season.
“I knew I was going to have to be patient and wait for my chance in the Premier League.
“It was good for me to come in for those last eight games and really prove to myself I could play at that level. That’s where I want to be playing.
“Coming off playing a lot of games in the Championship for Nottingham Forest, it’s a massive step up coming to the Premier League.
“I found that out the hard way in the West Brom game. I wanted to prove to myself and prove to everyone that I’m good enough to play in the Premier League.”
Darlow took confidence from his late-season run in the team under Benitez, who succeeded Steve McClaren at the helm in March after a dismal seven months on the field
“I’ve always been quite a confident lad,” said Darlow.
“It was a new club, and I wanted to prove to everyone here that I was deserving of being here.
“It was tough to start with with that game at West Brom.
“It made me even more determined to come out and show everyone that I can play.”
Darlow enhanced his reputation at Newcastle last season under the most trying circumstances after Elliot joined long-serving No 1 Tim Krul in the treatment room.
“It was a massive pressure situation given where we were,” said the Northampton-born player.
“It was a relegation battle that we couldn’t, unfortunately, get out of.
“But since the manager came in, we had a real good go at it and had we had the results from the back eight or nine games all season, we would have stayed up comfortably, I think.”
Darlow believes the events of last season are driving the players on in the Championship, a division Darlow knows inside out from his time at Forest.
Newcastle lead second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion by three points ahead of the Leeds game.
“It was a tough lesson to learn for the team,” said Darlow, who is eligible to play international football for Wales as well as England.
“I think it inspired everyone even more now.
“We want to get this club back up, because we feel responsible for going down.”