Martin Dubravka paid tribute to his cool-headed Newcastle United team-mates – for helping him through a “stressful” debut.
The goalkeeper was outstanding in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Manchester United.
Dubravka, signed on loan from Sparta Prague last month, made a crucial save from Anthony Martial with the score still goalless.
And the 29-year-old – who only found out that he was playing two hours before the match – helped the team see out a frantic final 10 minutes as Jose Mourinho’s side pressed for an equaliser.
“It was an amazing feeling for me, because we won against a very strong team,” said Dubravka.
“I’m very happy that we won as a team. We worked hard in training. We tried to do our best.”
I just tried to enjoy the game like every other before. I’m very happy that we won as a team. The players helped me, especially in the second half.Martin Dubravka
Dubravka stopped a first-half shot from Martial with his left foot.
“It was very important for me,” said the Slovakia international.
“When you’re in a new club and trying to do your best and show people that you deserve to be here, it’s very important (to make a save like that).
“But probably more important for me was the first touch with the ball.
“You’re trying to help the players and I was happy at that moment that I could pass a good ball and stay calm and just enjoy the game.”
Dubravka admitted the last 10 minutes were fraught as Newcastle defended, in Mourinho’s words, like “animals”.
“It was a bit stressful, because you could see all the players were in the box,” said Dubravka.
“You’re trying to do the best. We needed to stay calm in this situation and keep the ball away from the box and help each other and not just kick the balls away, keep it a little bit more.
“I think we did well, especially the last 10 minutes. We were under pressure, but we were trying to play football, and not just kick the balls away.”
Dubravka “tried not to think” about the physicality and intensity of the Premier League before he stepped on to the pitch.
Asked how he found his first experience of English football, he said: “First of all, I tried not to think about it.
“I just tried to enjoy the game like every other before. I’m very happy that we won as a team. The players helped me, especially in the second half.
“I’m very happy for them also. We have the three points now.”
Dubravka didn’t know he would be playing until he reported to St James’s Park on the morning of the game.
Asked when he found out he was in the team, he said: “Actually, two hours before the game. I didn’t know that I would play.”
Newcastle were in the Premier League’s relegation zone at kick-off time following Huddersfield Town’s 4-1 win over Bournemouth.
However, the result lifted the club up to 13th place ahead of a two-week break.
“It’s very important for us as a team, because we knew at the beginning that we were not in a good position,” said Dubravka.
“We tried to do our best and go higher. I’m very happy that we won and that we won against a very good team.”