Former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has won the prestigious Golden Shoe award in Belgium, making him the first goalkeeper to do so since 1987.
The award is given to the best footballer in the Belgian Juniper Pro League, and has previously been won by to the likes of Vincent Kompany, Axel Witsel and Thorgan Hazard.
Mignolet, who left Anfield three and a half years ago, has been a major part of Belgium side Club Brugge’s success this season.
The 34-year-old has helped lead his side to the Champions League knockout stages, keeping an incredible five cleans sheets in six matches.
They will face Portuguese giants Benfica in the last 16, with a first ever Champions League quarter final in their sights.
The former Sunderland shot stopper has been equally impressive at domestic level. His experience secured his side the league trophy as well as a Super Cup double last season.
Mignolet: It’s a dream
Mignolet took to social media to express his gratitude for the award, acknowledging the hard work that has gone into it.
He posted a humbling video of himself crafting the Golden Shoe on Twitter, accompanied with the caption: “A dream can only become a plan through craftsmanship and hard work.
“It’s an honour to be awarded the Gouden Schoen 2022 and become only the sixth goalkeeper in the history of this prize to win it.”
Previous winner Jean-Marie Pfaff told Belgian news outlet Het Nieuwsblad: “Mignolet is head and shoulders above the rest.
“If Simon becomes my successor (and wins the Jupiler League Player of the Year), it would be greatly deserved. What he achieved this year was enormous.
“For me, he certainly deserves the Golden Shoe. Simon has contributed a lot to Club Brugge over the past year. He was a huge pillar of support with his experience and reliability.”
No goalkeeper has claimed the award since Michel Preud’homme 36 years ago.
“When I won the Golden Shoe in 1987, that was the beginning of the heyday of KV Mechelen,” Preud’homme told Het Nieuwsblad. “Mignolet, last season at Club Brugge, was comparable (to me).
“He is very strong in one-on-one situations. Very strong in the air. He also is strong on his line. Simon was instrumental in qualifying for the next round of the Champions League. He has achieved in one year (what I did in two).”