A great 2012, but this year could be even better for Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel
It has been quite a year for Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. The Dane was crowned City's Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year after an excellent season which saw him keep 17 clean sheets, and his performances earned him a call-up to the Denmark squad for Euro 2012.
An ever-present between the posts, Schmeichel finished 2012 with a further 10 clean sheets as City moved into a position to challenge for automatic promotion.
To top off the year, 2012 also saw him welcome a new addition to his family as his Danish girlfriend, Stine Gyldenbrand, mother to his son Max, gave birth to their second child, daughter Isabella.
Grounded, understated, fully focused and hungry for even more success, Schmeichel admits it was a good year for him, but he is targeting an even better 2013, with promotion to the Premier League top of his wish-list.
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"Just playing week in and week out was the highlight for me in 2012," said the 26-year-old.
"I have been through periods in my younger days when I haven't played and that has been very frustrating.
"I am very proud of the fact I am playing every week. It keeps me going, keeping your standards up and keeping your place in the team. That has been the big highlight for me.
"The awards meant the world to me. It was fantastic. It is always great to get a personal accolade, especially from the fans and your team-mates. I would gladly have swapped all that for promotion, but it is always great to get that recognition.
"It was also great to get the call-up and represent your country. I have made no secret of the fact it is something I have wanted to do for some time. I am just trying to plug away and get into the team now."
After spending the early part of his career moving from club to club on loan, Schmeichel says he finally feels settled at Leicester.
"I moved about a lot early on and that has been my own choosing," he said. "When I was at Manchester City, I wanted to play so I pushed to go out on loan. I was out at quite a few places to broaden my football education.
"It is a great club here and I have been made to feel welcome from day one. I think any new player will tell you it is a very welcoming club and gives you a great platform. The facilities are great and the focus is on football and performing.
"I am at a point now where I must have played between 280 and 300 games. It is a period now where no-one can call me a rookie anymore.
"The only league I haven't played in is League One. I have played in Wales and Scotland.
"I have, frankly, experienced a lot.
"It is always nice to play well and, for me, goalkeeping is about consistency and your defenders having confidence in you. I feel they have that."
But when he is not standing firm as City's last line of defence, Schmeichel says he is just as devoted a father as he is a professional goalkeeper. "It has been a great year as well with the arrival of my daughter," added Schmeichel.
"I have been very lucky in that I have a boy and a girl now. I have a nice family.
"I have a great girlfriend who takes care of everything so I can concentrate on football. I love being a father."