Simon Mignolet still haunted by the pain of relegation


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The Independent Football

Back in Belgium Simon Mignolet tasted relegation early in his career. He was 17, the team, Sint-Truiden, was small. Going down ended the professional status of some of those he played with. That kind of introduction to the professional game leaves scars.

"Players were playing for their livelihoods, certainly the team I was in," Mignolet said, ahead of tomorrow's match against Manchester United at the Stadium of Light which kicks off with Sunderland four points clear of the drop zone . "In the First Division they were all professionals, but not in the Second Division, as some did other jobs as well, so if you went down it could mean your job.

"I know what it is like to be up against it. We were a small team and we weren't the best team in the league by any stretch so I know what it's like to struggle. I played the last couple of games of the season when we got relegated and the second season, my first real proper season as a footballer, we were in the Belgian Second Division. It taught me to make sure you played well on Saturday so that nothing bad happens.

"Every single game you play you learn as a keeper and become a better keeper," he added. "Sometimes you learn more when you get beat 4-0 than in games you won.

"As a young player I just tried to get better on the training pitch and in games and concentrate on that, but it was not an enjoyable experience going down. It was a tough start to my career, but believe me it is not the same dressing room there as it is here."