Tim Krul relishing No1 role at Newcastle

Now Dalglish's Kop flops have to face Krul and the gang



22:18 GMT, 30 March 2012

We're sitting in the same dressing room at Newcastle's training ground where the shambolic North East media team got changed six years ago before a beating by Graeme Souness and his staff.

We were battered that day, taunted by Dean Saunders after his double hat-trick.

Two young Newcastle keepers played: Fraser Forster for us and Tim Krul for Souness, the man who signed him.

Rapid rise: Krul has drawn interest from Spurs and Chelsea

Rapid rise: Krul has drawn interest from Spurs and Chelsea

We reach the final question of my meeting with Krul ahead of Sunday's showdown with Liverpool, with qualification for the Europa League in the balance for both sides.

Krul has proved a man not afraid to speak his mind, even if the subject of that spat with Robin van Persie is out of bounds ('I've said all I need to say,' he explains).

For years, one of our number has dined out on his goal in that press game. And rightly so. Rob Stewart's header from my Sportsmail colleague Michael Walker's cross was memorable.

Krul had no chance. But sorry lads, Krul doesn't remember it.

Turning heads: Krul is arguably the best in the league

Turning heads: Krul is arguably the best in the league

'Your friend has asked but I had to tell him, I don't recall it at all,' he says.

What is not in question is the rest of the Tim Krul story.

Signed by Souness at 17 in 2005, Krul made his debut in the UEFA Cup later that year.

A knee injury kept him out for six months, then he returned from loan spells with Falkirk and Carlisle to challenge Shay Given and Steve Harper for the No 1 jersey.

This season he has arguably been the best keeper in the Barclays Premier League, playing well enough to turn the heads of Chelsea and Tottenham.

It is an impressive rise since the night in Sicily against Palermo when Krul was given his debut by Glenn Roeder.

'We went for a walk out of the hotel and he called me across and told me I was playing,' Krul says. 'I never dreamed it would happen then.'

His debut was so good one fan posted a compilation on YouTube.

Krul is Newcastle's No 1 now.

He sees imperfections in the saves he used to make, those of a kid flailing his arms and losing crucial nanoseconds.

He smiles, remembering the influence of his mentors Given and Harper. They tied his hands together.

'When I first came to England I was always waving my arms about,' he says.

'You should always have them in front of you, so that if someone hits a shot, you are ready. Sometimes when a shot was hit at me, my hands were still by my side.

'They used to hammer me. Eventually one day they tied my wrists by sticking together the Velcro from the straps on left and right gloves. You get the message after something as extreme as that. They both really looked after me. They were like two big brothers and I owe them a lot. They were never too big to guide me and I listened.' He pauses and laughs.

Hands in front: A lesson learned the hard way for Newcastle's shot-stopper

Hands in front: A lesson learned the hard way for Newcastle's shot-stopper

'Also off the field… don't even ask.'

Harper had to step aside when Alan Pardew decided Krul would start this season as No 1.

It was cruel on Harper, who had waited a decade for the honour, but Krul has been inspired.

Not that his graduation was ever in doubt.

Forced to wait: Steve Harper

Forced to wait: Steve Harper

Signed after a successful Under 19 tournament for Holland, Krul was made promises, providing he fulfilled his potential.

He kept his end of the bargain – and so did Newcastle.

'They offered me a whole plan and they have kept to it,' he says. 'It was always step by step. And it was reliant on me. It is hard to be patient but those little promises kept me going.'

Krul lived in digs near Newcastle's training ground when he left ADO Den Haag, and lived with landlord Glynn Marshall.

'He pulled me through and looked after me,' he says. 'It's not easy coming here so young and I couldn't have done it on my own.'

Not that Krul had any doubts about moving to England. He had been dreaming of a career here since the age of 12.

He says: 'My old team came over for a tournament and we went on the tours to Old Trafford and Anfield, but we were only allowed to walk down the tunnel and pitchside. It's funny how you have a different perspective when you are 12, and everything seems so much bigger compared to now.

'There were signs saying you could not go on the pitch, but I was very tempted to jump over the ropes. From that moment it was my dream to play in England. When Newcastle called there was no way I could say no. I always stayed up watching Match of the Day after midnight to watch Dutch players.'

Krul played the last six games of last season and made his Holland debut in the summer. The 23-year-old, who has kept 10 clean sheets, has been at the heart of Newcastle's unexpected resurgence.

Krul says: 'The manager called me in the week before the season and said, “Tim, you're starting the season and you have to prove you deserve the shirt and should be playing every week”.

'I was grateful the gaffer gave me the opportunity and I could not have wished for a better season so far but I need that mentality. It keeps me on my toes.'

Heated exchange: Arsenal's Robin van Persie squares up to Krul

Heated exchange: Arsenal's Robin van Persie squares up to Krul

Krul adds: 'The target this season was top 10 and from the second week we have been in the top seven, so we have been really performing amazingly. We have not looked back since going unbeaten in the first 11 games.

'The belief is there and the manager keeps hammering at us that we have eight games to go, we are eight points ahead of Liverpool and level with Chelsea. He keeps drumming it into us that we have to believe. What a chance we have, so why not take it You don't get them very often.'

Tim Krul was speaking on behalf of Barclays Ticket Office.

Fans can win tickets to Premier League matches every 90 minutes by going to a Barclays ATM and requesting a receipt, or by visiting www.barclaysticketoffice.co.uk