Simon Mignolet has no regrets about his Liverpool exit and hopes to give the red half of Merseyside something to smile about when Club Brugge take on Manchester United in the Europa League.
Following three years with Sunderland, the Belgium goalkeeper moved to Anfield in 2013 and went on to make more than 200 appearances for the Reds.
Mignolet was part of the Liverpool squad who won last season’s Champions League but, like so often in recent seasons, he was restricted to a watching brief for the Madrid finale.
The 31-year-old plumped for a return home in search of regular football in the summer and joined Club Brugge, who host United in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 encounter on Thursday.
Asked if he had any regrets about leaving ever-improving Liverpool, Mignolet said: “No, of course, because I very well knew that before I left that Liverpool was going to play a great season and would be challenging for titles, both domestically and in Europe.
“But I’ve said it loads of times, that I want to be playing week in, week out, and I’ve got the chance to do that with Club Brugge now, so I’m very pleased with that.”
Mignolet is sure to be reminded of his Liverpool connection by United’s travelling support on Thursday night.
The goalkeeper has yet to receive any good-luck messages from his former team-mates and will not be taking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s inconsistent side lightly in Bruges.
“It’s not me against Manchester United or me playing against an English team,” he said.
“It’s Club Brugge against Manchester United and we have to play our game as a team and as a club to try and give us the best platform to play the second leg at Old Trafford.
“I’ve said it before, Manchester United are a really good team. They’re playing well. It’s going to be a fixture; it’s going to be tough challenge.
“And for our boys, it’s a new challenge to face against an English team at the European stage so we look forward to that in the first place.”
Mignolet is not sure what team United will deploy at Jan Breydelstadion following Monday’s win at Chelsea, nor is manager Philippe Clement.
The former Coventry player was assistant manager when the sides last met in 2015 as a 4-0 United victory in Belgium completed a 7-1 aggregate rout in the Champions League play-offs.
But Clement believes Club Brugge have closed the gap to United since then, with his side performing impressively in a Champions League group from which Real Madrid and Paris St Germain progressed.
“We have a young team, we are a club who want to invest in young players also and these experiences, like in the Champions League, like playing against Manchester United, are very crucial for the development of all our players,” he said.
“So I’m really looking forward to these two games to see where my young squad can end.
“They were not so consistent in the league maybe but if I see the Europa League, they played six games and five games they didn’t concede one goal.
“They only conceded two goals when they played with a C team. Not a B team but a C team, so we stay realistic.
“We know what their strengths are, we know what their qualities are.
“But we’re going to give all our life to get the best result out of the two games.”