Martin Dubravka says he didn’t want to leave the field at the King Power Stadium – as Newcastle United’s ‘unbelievable’ support celebrated a huge result.
The club’s fans stayed behind to applaud Rafa Benitez and his players after the 1-0 win over Leicester City.
Ayoze Perez’s goal all but secured United’s Premier League status for another season – and Dubravka wanted to ‘enjoy’ the moment with fans.
The result has left the club 15th in the division and seven points clear of the relegation zone with four games left to play.
And a win over Southampton at St James’s Park on Saturday could make Newcastle, on 38 points, mathematically safe if 18th-placed Cardiff City fail to beat Liverpool at home on Sunday.
Reflecting on the scenes at the end of the Leicester game, Dubravka said: “That was unbelievable. We lost against Crystal Palace and didn’t deserve to lose.
“You could see two or three thousand fans travelling and supporting us. That was unbelievable.
“You can see the connection between the fans and players. I didn’t want to leave – I just wanted to enjoy that. It was crazy, crazy – unbelievable.”
Benitez had set the club a 38-point safety target several months ago.
Asked if United were now safe, Dubravka said: “It looks like we’re safe now. What a crucial game for us.
“It’s an amazing feel now, as we were really working hard for the victory, and I’m very glad that we took the three points. We sacrificed everything.
“Leicester had the possession, we were defending really deep, but you saw the guys gave everything – 100% – and we scored a very nice goal.”
United had found themselves again under pressure going into the Leicester game after losing at home to Crystal Palace.
“We knew that against Crystal Palace that we didn’t deserve to lose,” said Dubravka.
“They had one shot on goal and it was a penalty. It was a good reaction. They were very dangerous.
“The defensive work of all of the team was unbelievable.”
Dubravka made a couple of important saves as Newcastle kept a 10th clean sheet at the King Power Stadium.
The goalkeeper added: “I’m very glad that we took the three points against a good quality team.”
Benitez is looking for United to finish the season strongly.
The club finished 10th last season, despite losing four of its last five league games.
“We’re still talking about the next game being most important,” said Dubravka, who has played every minute of every league game.
“We’re coming to play against Southampton at home.
“It’s a tough game, because they are also playing to stay in the league.
“It’ll be another tough game. We’re playing at home, we want to give fans the reason to be in the same mood.”
Newcastle and Southampton played out a goalless draw at the St Mary’s Stadium in late October.
“I remember when we played away against them – I still think we could have won this game,” said Dubravka.
“Now we’re very close. It’ll be a 50-50 game, but we’re playing at home, so we’d like to win and go as high as possible.”
Footage of Matt Ritchie slapping Dubravka on the back against Leicester went viral after the game.
Dubravka had been struggling to breathe after going for a cross, and he asked team-mate Ritchie for help.
Ritchie, however, slapped Dubravka a little too hard.
Asked about the incident, Dubravka said: “Have you seen that video? I told Ritchie that I couldn’t breathe because I went for the cross and someone probably, I don’t know ... I couldn’t breathe.
“He said ‘are you OK’ and then smashed my back. I’m OK now.”