'I needed this season' - City number one can't wait to be back in the big time
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Amid the promotion celebrations, Canaries number one Tim Krul spoke to David Freezer about title hopes, his top save this season and a remarkable personal journey back to the Premier League.
Norwich City number one Tim Krul is a goalkeeper of vast experience but admits the promotion success he is at the heart of has made for the most exciting season of his career so far.
The Dutchman has made over 150 appearances in the Premier League and reached the Europa League quarter-finals with Newcastle – and of course played at the 2014 World Cup.
City's promotion success has been extra special for the 31-year-old though, after having to rebuild his career because of a serious knee ligament injury.
“The most exciting one has been this one for sure,” Krul said when asked where the achievement ranks in his career.
“I finished fifth with Newcastle and that was an incredible journey, three points off the Champions League, and I had some great moments with Holland. But this, to play every moment of this journey, I can't describe how I feel.”
The keeper's emotions were bubbling to the surface amid the celebrations of Saturday's 2-1 win over Blackburn, which secured City's return to the Premier League and a first Carrow Road promotion since 1960.
Krul admits he wasn't expecting to be challenging for promotion this season though, with reports in Holland suggesting he turned down a cover role at Chelsea to join City during pre-season.
“We were hoping for a top-10 finish, so to be in the top two from November has been some journey,” he said.
“We've had some amazing nights at this stadium, some crazy nights, some massive ups and downs, but what a club, what a city, the whole place is buzzing. We've got such a young, talented group, we're so tight together, it's amazing – what a journey.”
The ambition of head coach Daniel Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber had persuaded Krul to sign a two-year deal, adding his experience on a free transfer after limited involvement at Brighton in the top flight last season.
“We've had some really tough challenges and dealt with some horrible stuff,” Krul continued.
“The young lads are playing like adults, they've played like they've been in this team for the last 10 years. I'm just proud, the manager never got carried away, him and Stuart Webber and the back-room staff are just incredible.
“They give us a plan every week and we sit in that meeting room sometimes for 45 minutes or an hour analysing the opposition and we know exactly what we are facing every game.
“That's testament to the boss and the back-room staff, for sure.”
The Holland international's revival is all set against the backdrop of his October 2015 knee injury though, suffered during a Euro 2016 qualifier on an artificial pitch in Kazakhstan.
Prior to that Krul had been first choice at Newcastle for five consecutive top-tier seasons, having joined the Magpies as an 18-year-old, taking in loan spells at Carlisle and Falkirk and winning the U21 European Championship with Holland as a youngster.
At his peak he was linked with big clubs including Barcelona and Manchester United – and he can't wait to return to the big time.
“It's been amazing,” he added. “I had a horrible injury three years ago and I went to a really dark place and it took me a while to trust my body again.
“I needed this season, I'm so excited that I've managed to get 45 games in and hopefully another one (at Aston Villa on Sunday).
“I can't wait to show people that I'm back and I needed this season to get it out of my system and to be back in the Premier League.
“It's going to be a busy season, I know that, but I've been there and I can't wait to be back and show people that I'm really back.”
While there have been ups and downs throughout the season, a couple of saves standout for Krul, denying Josh Brownhill spectacularly during the 2-2 draw at Bristol City in December and Fernando Forestieri during the 2-2 home draw with Sheffield Wednesday recently.
“I think the one at Bristol City away that I managed to tip it over, I think that was one of my favourites, and in front of the Barclay last week (against Wednesday),” he said.
“I think a lot of my best saves have been away from home so it would be nice to do that at home as well because they are desperate for me to do well and for the boys to do well.”
There's one more game to focus on yet though, with a point at Villa enough to guarantee the Championship title on Sunday.
“Everybody deserves to finish off this season with that trophy because it will be in the history of this club,” Krul concluded.
“All of the fans will agree that it's been one of the most amazing seasons, especially for me, to play 45 games and to be part of every minute of this journey.”