Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has admitted the 2018-19 campaign has been “up and down” in terms of results, but he’s looking to go out on a high in Sunday’s final fixture of the season at relegated Fulham.
The Slovakian shot-stopper has become something of a cult hero on the St James’ Park terraces since signing for Rafa Benitez’s side – initially on loan – from Sparta Prague.
But after making an immediate impression between the posts before securing a permanent switch 12 months ago, his first full season in England has been a mixed one.
However, the 30-year-old has cited “mental toughness” as key to the Magpies’ recovery after they failed to win any of their first 10 Premier League fixtures.
“The first 10 games was really tough for us, especially mentally, because if you don't win in 10 games, it's really hard to keep going,” Dubravka told Chronicle Live.
“It was up and down. A lot of people probably expected that we would keep losing the games, but after that, probably the crucial game was against Manchester City (at the end of January).
“That gave us so much confidence, and after that we had the run of victories.
“We were very close also with the big teams and even the away teams, but we are safe, and that's the most important thing.”
Ahead of the final day clash with Fulham, Dubravka has highlighted the passion and intensity that was clear for all to see, both on the pitch and in the stands, during Newcastle’s 3-2 defeat to title contenders Liverpool last weekend.
The Magpies matched Jurgen Klopp’s men stride-for-stride before Divock Origi’s late winner, and while the final score favoured the Reds, the goalkeeper feels his side did enough to earn something from the game.
“We felt that we could probably take one point,” he said. “It was up and down, and we felt a draw would be fair, maybe.
“We didn’t put our heads down, and we were trying to be dangerous and we scored two very nice goals.
“To be honest, they didn't create too many chances. They had probably one more chance in the first half, and that’s it. Then they scored from the set-pieces.
“We gave them a golden opportunity to score. It was not the best from our side, but we showed character and we were full of emotion.
“We had trained during the week and prepared to be more successful in the high duels.
“We definitely want to win the game (against Fulham). You can see it was a great effort (against Liverpool). The fans were incredible.”