Come on, admit it, how many of you had heard about Martin Dúbravka before Rafa Benitez brought him in? Initially on-loan to get him here there was no doubt that Benitez wanted this man between our sticks.
Thank goodness he did and thank goodness we got him. Since his Man of the Match performance on his debut v Man. Utd the 6’ 3” Slovakian international stopper has been a giant for The Toon and has quite rightfully been named our Player of the Year for 2019/20.
Is he flawless? Probably not but without him there’s no doubt in my mind that we’d be playing Championship football next year.
The season didn’t end on a high note for Dúbravka and his team-mates as once safety was confirmed we spiralled from defeat to defeat. But none of this could be blamed on “Big Hec” who was as solid as anyone after restart and massively before.
He’s even bounced back from injury to not miss a league game for us this season and with the greatest respect in the world to Karl Darlow that was probably the biggest break that the “lockdown” gave us as a club. Well, that and Allan Saint-Maximin’s form on restart.
But “Dubs” has been brilliant and therefore in my mind and obviously others too is fully deserving of his Player of the Year Award. He had eleven clean sheets during the season and made more saves than any other keeper in the league. Incredible stats for a team finishing 13th and showing his worth time and time again.
Dúbravka himself was very humbling when being told about the award:
“It is a big honour and privilege, because obviously I know the history and what kind of players play for this massive club and achieve this kind of trophy, so I couldn’t be more happy and more delighted,”
“It’s a big thing for me. It’s always nice to have this kind of memory, so really, I’m so happy.
“I’m pleased that I could be on the pitch in every game, that I was fit and I was able to be there, trying to help my teammates, and I really hope that we can achieve in the next season a higher place in the league, because I think we have the potential. That’s the plan.”
Great words from a player that even went out in the final game with a world-class save from Minamino showcasing his ability and can certainly not be blamed for any of the goals. Van Dijk’s header was perfect and in the only place Dúbravka couldn’t reach it whilst the other two were free shots after defenders didn’t close down.
Personally, I think this is an honour well deserved and takeover or no takeover this is the man I want in our goal next season. Think how good he’s been this year and then put a decent defence in after takeover and think how much better he’ll be.
Top man Martin Dúbravka, well done!