Sunderland keeper Mignolet proud after receiving North East Player of the Year award

The 24-year-old goalkeeper edged out Newcastle's Tim Krul and Hatem Ben Arfa for the football writers’ prize following a terrific year for the Belgian international

Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has revealed his pride after winning a regional Player of the Year award for 2012.

The Belgium international was awarded the North East Football Writers' Player of the Year award ahead of Tim Krul and Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle United after another solid season.

The 24-year-old has been a standout for a struggling Black Cats side, earning himself a clean sheet record bettered by only Joe Hart and Petr Cech.

Mignolet told BBC Newcastle: "If you see the previous winners who won this award they are all big names, therefore I'm very proud to be in that list now.

"I won best goalkeeper of the year when I was in Belgium but this one is higher recognition because if you see the players you fight against every single day, and you get recognition, I'm very pleased.

"I think this year has been a really good year for me but I'm only 24."

Mignolet's team-mate Steven Fletcher has received a lot of plaudits himself this term for his impressive haul of 10 goals, and the Scotsman believes the Belgian is a top player.

Fletcher, 25, told the Sunderland Echo: "Simon is up there with the very best – we see that in training all the time.

"It's frightening how good Simon is – some of the saves he pulls out in training you just can't grasp how he could have got it.

"And he's a good lad too. He's one of the nicest guys in football and he does everything right and it's good that we have him in our side."