Newcastle's Martin Dubravka reveals what Rafa Benitez told him after his heroics against Man United

Rafa Benitez told Martin Dubravka to buy a lottery ticket after his Newcastle United debut.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 24 February, 2018, 05:30
Martin Dubravka dives at the feet of Jesse Lingard in Newcastle's win over Manchester United a fortnight ago. Picture by Frank Reid

The goalkeeper was outstanding in the club’s 1-0 win over Manchester United.

Dubravka stopped a first-half shot from Anthony Martial with his leg and made a series of second-half saves to keep Jose Mourinho’s side at bay.

The 29-year-old, signed on loan from Sparta Prague, shrugged off praise for his performance ahead of this afternoon’s game against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

“I just tried to stay focused in every minute, stay calm,” said Dubravka. “I didn’t want the ball flying everywhere or me to rush out. OK, I made one save (from Martial), but I didn’t want to celebrate it.

“It was my first game. I’m not a hero. Many people said to me after the game ‘I’m a hero.’ My reaction was ‘it was the first game, you will forget this’.”

Dubravka quickly settled into the game – with the help of the club’s fans.

Martin Dubravka. Picture by Frank Reid

“I felt it, of course, the atmosphere from the stadium – and the fans were amazing,” said Dubravka.

“I was very happy. I was just trying to help the guys in the situations where they needed me. I really enjoyed the game.

“It was a great experience in my life; my first game, my debut.

“Many of my friends were sending me messages before the game, reminding me that we were playing Man United, and asking me if I realised that. I said ‘of course – thank you so much for this information!’.

“Many friends then sent me messages after the game, saying ‘I am a fan of Man United, but I am happy you won!’. And I was very happy also.”

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Dubravka only found out he was playing a couple of hours before the game.

“From the beginning, I didn’t know I would be playing in this game,” he said. “I was just sitting in the dressing room and the coach had the line-up.

“It surprised me because I didn’t have any information that I would be playing in this game, so I just tried to stay calm and tried to make sure I was ready for the game so I could do my best.

“Many players talked before the game and told me ‘you have to talk, you have to support us and just stay calm’.

“So I said I would try and perform how I do normally, as in a normal game, but, of course, it was Man United.

“I was just trying to take it as if it was any other game, but you can hear the crowd and the atmosphere and it helped me enjoy the game more.”

Asked what Benitez said to him after the game, Benitez said: “He told me I should buy some kind of ticket and I would win.

“He spoke to me many times before the game to help me.

“He knew it was a big game for me, my debut. We knew that nobody believed we could take three points.

“I said to everyone ‘you never know, you can always beat the best teams if you fight for each other’. That is why we won.”

Dubravka didn’t go out and celebrate the result, which lifted the club up to 13th place in the Premier League table.

“I spent all night answering the phone, returning call and reading messages,” said the Slovakia international.