Mike Williamson insists he can handle the pressure of playing for Newcastle United – and is determined to prove his worth to new boss Steve McClaren.
Long-serving Williamson has been with the club since 2010 and has experienced the highs and lows of life at St James’s Park.
I have loved every time I have pulled the shirt on and hopefully this season there will be plenty more.Mike Williamson
His time appeared up at the end of last season after a bust-up with interim head coach John Carver over Williamson’s sending-off against Leicester City.
Carver accused the centre-half of deliberately getting himself dismissed so he would miss the high-pressure relegation run-in.
In the end, Williamson returned for the last game of the season against West Ham United, with Newcastle’s Premier League survival on the line, and helped keep a clean sheet as the Magpies beat the drop with a 2-0 win.
Many felt it would be Williamson’s last game in a black and white shirt, and the defender has been linked with a move away this summer.
However, Williamson is determined to fight for his place under new head coach McClaren.
He said: “I feel like I’m growing, learning and maturing all the time and I still have a big contribution to make to Newcastle.
“It has been an exceptional time here. I can’t speak highly enough of the fans, the club, the good and the bad.”
“I have enjoyed every day of it, even the pressure that comes with playing for Newcastle.
“You have to enjoy that and if you can’t handle the pressure, you are in the wrong job.
“I have loved every time I have pulled the shirt on and hopefully this season there will be plenty more.
“I know I can have a good, positive effect on the team. That’s what I have done since I arrived here and hopefully that’s what will happen this season, too.”
Williamson is now hoping he can play a big role in a new era at the club, and help get them back challenging at the top of the Premier league.
“Hopefully everyone has gone away, recovered and we can build and make sure that (fighting relegation) doesn’t happen again,” he told nufc.co.uk.
“I’d love to make sure there is pressure on the last game this year but for a very different – and better – reason. It would great to be pushing back into the top seven, where this club should be.
“We have to learn from what happened last season, take lessons from it and ensure we are stronger for it this year.”