By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
More than six years after making his Newcastle United debut as a fresh-faced teenager, Tim Krul is set to make his 100th appearance for the club against Chelsea on Saturday and admits that it will be a "proud" day for him.
He was only 18 when he started against Palermo in the UEFA Cup back in November 2006 and will clock up his ton at the age of 24 - still a relatively young age for a goalkeeper. The Dutchman has played 82 league games as well as making six appearances in the FA Cup, seven in the League Cup and four in Europe.
Signed from hometown club Den Haag in 2005, Krul has also played 26 times for Falkirk during a successful loan spell in 2007-08 and nine times for Carlisle the following season, while he has four full caps for Holland.
Fittingly, his Magpies century will come in front of a packed St. James' Park against the reigning European champions and on the eve of the match, Krul spoke exclusively to nufc.co.uk about his achievement.
"I'm proud to reach that milestone," said the Newcastle number one. "I've been here seven years, of course, and the first few years were a massive, massive learning curve. I came here as a young boy, went on loan a few times - and here I am, about to play my 100th game for the club.
"It's massive. I came to England to play in the Premier League and Newcastle has became my second home so it's definitely something to be proud of. I came here with an ambition to become the number one one day and to play for Newcastle in 100 games is brilliant."
Reflecting on the night in Italy where he made his first appearance in a 1-0 win at the Stadio Renzo Barbera, Krul said: "I remember I went for a walk in the morning with the team and Glenn Roeder came up to me and told me I was playing and that I was going to make my debut that night.
"It was a UEFA Cup game in Palermo and it was good because I'd been at the club for less than a year, I think. It was just an unbelievable experience for me. I used the word 'unbelievable' a lot after the game - I was just living the dream that night.
"But a few weeks later, I had a serious knee injury that ruled me out for the rest of the season because I had to have an operation. After that, I went out on loan to get some much-needed experience in Scotland.
"It was important for me to see the other side of football. The players needed a win to get a win bonus to look after their family and that really opened my eyes because sometimes you forget how privileged you are to play for a team like Newcastle."
Krul had to wait until the opening day of the 2009/10 campaign to make his second appearance for the Magpies but, just like he had against Palermo, came off the pitch a hero. Replacing the injured Steve Harper, he made a string of saves to help United earn an important draw at West Bromwich Albion.
"It was the first game of the Championship season and Harps went off at half-time," he recalled. "West Brom had been relegated from the Premier League the previous season, like us, so it was a big game.
"And it's just a great memory and of course we went on to win the Championship which makes it even better."
He made seven more appearances during that season before finally realising his aim of becoming a Premier League goalkeeper against Everton on 18th September 2010, again as a replacement for Harper, who had suffered a shoulder injury following a late challenge from Jermaine Beckford.
"Of course it wasn't nice for Harps at the time but it was good to get involved," he said. "It was my debut in the Premier League which was something I'd always dreamed of and we won 1-0.
"Since then, I've played a lot more games and there have been quite a few that have been special. Sunderland at home (in October 2010) was a massive, massive memory. We won 5-1 and it was incredible. There was also the 1-0 win away at Arsenal seven days later and beating Manchester United 3-0 last season. That was a great feeling as well.
"There have been some great memories and hopefully there are many more to come.
"It would be nice to reach 200. I love it here and playing for a massive team like Newcastle is a dream come true for me.
"Hopefully we can get up that table as quickly as possible. Chelsea is a good fixture for us on the back of a great win at Aston Villa and hopefully we can finish it off with another good result and claim three points."
Click here to buy a Newcastle United shirt with Krul's name and number on the back