When Tim Krul was taken to Newcastle United FC from hometown club ADO Den Haag in July 2005 just two months after helping the Netherlands to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final, the goalkeeper could not have dreamed that his top-level debut would come so soon, and be so dramatic. But after being called into action at US Città di Palermo for yesterday's UEFA Cup tie, Krul performed heroics to earn a 1-0 win and summed the night up as "unbelievable".
'What an atmosphere'
The tall 18-year-old was handed a start when Steve Harper, understudy to the injured Shay Given, failed a late fitness test. Krul acquitted himself with aplomb, making save after save in the second half to help Newcastle establish control of Group H, the first team ever to gain an away European win at Palermo, thanks to Albert Luque's 37th-minute goal. Krul, whose stellar U17 finals performance had also come in Italy, was understandably ecstatic. "What an atmosphere, it was unbelievable, and I got a clean sheet as well," he said.
The highlight of his night was a tremendous double-stop as he blocked Andrea Caracciolo's strong header and quickly stood to deny Mattia Cassani's swift follow-up. "It was a header from the tall guy, and then I got up, threw my body in the way and saved it," Krul added, admitting that the early moments were tough for him. "In the first five minutes there was a lot of pressure on us and we had a hard time."
Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder was quick to congatulate his young custodian, his performance having helped the club move three points clear in the group. "I always thought he was capable of a mature performance," Roeder said. "I knew he wouldn't have any nerves. He's strong and confident."
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