Talk of the Toon: Hero Tim’s gone from Palermo to the Potteries

HEROICS ... Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul.
HEROICS ... Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul.

THERE was high praise for Tim Krul from Alan Pardew ahead of tonight’s game at Stoke City.

And no wonder, the goalkeeper’s been outstanding so far this season.

Krul will again be between the posts at the Britannia Stadium tonight, and he won’t forget his last Halloween outing in a hurry.

A year ago, he was in the Newcastle United team which humbled rivals Sunderland 5-1 at St James’s Park.

Krul won’t have too many quieter afternoons in his career.

But a more significant anniversary is in a couple of days’ time for the 23-year-old.

It’s almost five years to the day since he made his debut for the club in a UEFA Cup tie away to Palermo.

With Shay Given and Steve Harper sidelined through injury, Krul made a daunting first appearance at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.

Only the Dutchman wasn’t daunted, far from it.

Krul was in defiant mood, and he had to be, as Palermo took the game to Newcastle, though thanks to his heroics in goal - and a rare Albert Luque strike - Glenn Roeder’s side won 1-0 in Sicily.

Interviewed on the pitch after the game, Krul repeated the word “unbelievable” several times. In a way, it was.

Football, however, is a cruel game, and a few days later he was injured in the warm-up at Watford, and spent several months on the sidelines.

Loan spells at less glamorous footballing outposts Falkirk and Carlisle United followed.

Krul came back from those fitter and stronger, and over the past couple of seasons he’s been knocking on the first-team door.

There aren’t too many better shot-stoppers in the Premier League, and his height means he’s a commanding presence in the box.

Off the field, Krul’s as laid back as they come, but on the pitch he’s as focused as any goalkeeper in the league.

The few hundred United fans that travelled to Palermo got an early sight of this determination from behind the wire mesh fences of the Stadio Renzo Barbera’s fortified away end.

It was undoubtedly a glimpse into the future.

That game was also notable for Andy Carroll’s first appearance for United, the striker becoming the youngest player to represent the club in Europe when he made it on to the pitch in injury time, aged 17 years and 267 days.

Carroll might have gone, but Krul remains.

Fourth-placed Newcastle lead Carroll’s Liverpool in the Premier League for the moment.

And the hope is it won’t be long before Krul - and the club - is back in Europe.