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Dúbravka wins North East Football Writers' Association player of the year award

Written by Dan King

Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka has won the North East Football Writers' Association player of the year award.

The Slovakia international only joined the Magpies in January, initially on loan from Sparta Prague before his move was made permanent in the summer, but his performances in the second half of last season and the first half of the current campaign have seen him chosen as the region's outstanding player for 2018.

He will receive the award - sponsored by William Hill - at The North East Football Writers' Association's 39th annual player of the year dinner at the Ramside Hall Hotel, Golf Club and Spa in Durham on Sunday, 17th February.

Last season, Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie were joint winners of the trophy, which has previously been given to the likes of Alan Shearer, Kevin Keegan, Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle and Shay Given.

Dúbravka told nufc.co.uk: "I'm really surprised and honoured to win the award. It means a great deal to me but it would not be possible without my team-mates.

"I actually went to last year's award ceremony with some of the guys to congratulate Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie and it was a great night, so I will be very proud to receive the trophy myself.

"Thank you to all of the journalists and writers who voted for me. It was an excellent year and I hope 2019 will be even better for me and for my team."

And manager Rafa Benítez added: "I'm really pleased for Martin. He was a massive signing for us and he made a big difference for the team in the second half of the league last season, and has been outstanding also this year.

"At the same time, he's a great professional, an experienced player who is a great example for the young players, and I'm really pleased to see that people recognise how good he is."

Sunderland's Josh Maja has been chosen as the young player of the year while Durham Women's Beth Hepple is the women's player of the year.

"Thank you to all of the journalists and writers who voted for me. It was an excellent year and I hope 2019 will be even better for me and for my team."

Martin Dúbravka

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