Simon Mignolet spoke of his excitement at the prospect of competing with Pepe Reina for a place in the Liverpool lineup after he became the first Belgian to sign for the club on Tuesday afternoon.
The 25-year-old enjoyed his first day at Melwood after putting his signature on a long-term contract — and sat down for an exclusive interview.
He outlined his ambition to win the respect of Liverpool fans and to keep many clean sheets (shutouts) in front of the Kop over the coming years.
But Mignolet is taking nothing for granted as he joins Reina and Brad Jones in Liverpool’s goalkeeping ranks.
“Competition can only be a good thing,” said the 13-time Belgium international.
“I’ve been in big competitions wherever I’ve been — in Belgium with the national team and in Sunderland with Craig Gordon and Keiren Westwood, who are international goalies. Now it’s the same again with Pepe and with Brad.
“It’s only a good thing – to be competitive and to train as hard as you can, it can only bring the best out of you.
“Pepe is an experienced goalkeeper who has proven a lot over the years. I’m looking forward to working with him, the same as I am with Brad and the goalie coach.
“It’s a challenge but that’s what you want. You want to play in the big games, you want to play for a big club and to play with pressure.
“I’m very confident in myself and I can’t wait to get the first clean sheet under my belt.
“I’ve never been a nervous person. I’m quite confident in my own abilities.”
Mignolet will now jet back to his homeland before reporting for training at Melwood at the start of July.
On being the first Belgian to sign for Liverpool, he added: “I’ve been told that and it’s quite a surprise to me because you see how many Belgians are playing in the Premier League today.
“It’s something to be proud of — the first Belgian to play for a big club such as Liverpool.
“It’s a big club and when you arrive it’s a big thing. I’m very pleased to be here and I’m looking forward to getting started. The first training [session] will be very early and I’ll be happy to be there.
“I tried to keep this as quiet as I could because there are a lot of things that have to be finalized before you sign. I kept it quiet because I know my friends and family, they’d get excited. But they’re happy and hopefully they can come over for a lot of the games. I think they will be proud.”
Mignolet has had several discussions with Brendan Rodgers over recent days and is confident he can adapt to how his new manager likes to play football.
“Back in Belgium, the goalies always train to play with the ball at their feet,” he said. “We join in most of the time, playing more with our feet than with our hands. I’m used to this.
“I’ve spoken to [Rodgers] a few times already and I’m very pleased. He is very ambitious, like I am.
“Let’s hope we can win a lot of games and finish as high up the table as we can.”
Mignolet has played against Liverpool six times — three of which were at Anfield — during his three years in Sunderland and the Kop’s tradition of applauding visiting goalkeepers made quite an impression.
“Even as an away goalkeeper they always applaud you when you run to the Kop,” he said. “I know they appreciate their goalies and hopefully they will appreciate me as a home ‘keeper. I really can’t wait to play in front of them and win matches in front of them.
“I think it will be very special the first moment I step onto the pitch. The first couple of moments I’ll be nervous but I’m sure the fans will get me over that. Hopefully we can keep a lot of clean sheets and get a lot of points — that’s what I’m here for.
“I know they’re very passionate about their club and I know they love and support their goalies, so hopefully they can be behind me and hopefully we can enjoy a lot of wins and trophies together.”
Photo via Facebook/Simon Mingolet