Today Matz Sels signed a 5 year contract at Newcastle United. Matz leaves KAA Gent after three seasons with a Belgian Championship title and the Belgian Supercup under his belt. As a Buffalo he also made his debut in the national team and he was one of the key players during our amazing Champions League campaign in 2015-2016. Finally he was elected Best Goalkeeper of Belgium in two separate elections, one of them being awarded by his colleagues.
On January 3rd 2014, Matz Sels, 21 at the time, signed a four year contract with KAA Gent. Only eleven days later, in a crucial cup tie at KV Kortrijk, he showed his class for the first time. After some amazing saves and a crucial stop in the penalty series, Sels became a fan favourite overnight. Under the guidance of Hein Vanhaezebrouck and keepers trainer Francky Vandendriessche he did develop into one of the best goalkeepers in Belgium. And with 14 clean sheerts in 39 games in the Jupiler Pro League, Sels was one of the key players in the conquest of the first ever Belgian Championship in the history of the club. In July he also added the Belgian Supercup to his palmares after a 1-0 win against Club Bruges.
Last season Europe also started to notice the talented goalkeeper. In an amazing Champions League campaign Sels impressed game after game. In our Champions League debut at home against Lyon, he stopped a penalty by Lacazette in min 88, while we were standing our ground against the French with a 1-1 score and 9 players on the pitch. His save granted us our first point ever in the Champions League and we were off to an excellent campaign. In Lyon he also impressed with some outstanding saves in our shock 1-2 away win. UEFA even included Matz in their Champions League team of the Week. By the end of 2015 Marc Wilmots granted Matz his first call up to the national team.
2016 was the season of individual trophies for Sels. In January he was elected “Goalkeeper of the Year” at the Golden Shoe gala (elected by journalists, player, and coaches), with teammate and captain Sven Kums collecting the Golden Shoe (and another two Ghent players on the podium, being Danijel Milicevic and Laurent Depoitre). At the end of the season he won the “Goalkeeper of the Year” Award at the “Professional Player of the Year" – a trophy awarded by his colleague players. At the end of May Sels played his last game for KAA Gent, at home against Racing Genk. With another clean sheet, he and his teammates secured a European ticket. Sels wore the Ghent jersey in 116 matches and kept a clean sheet 38 times.
KAA Gent wish to thank Matz for his exemplary working ethos and his fantastic performances for the club. We know that in Newcastle he will find a club with a warm and fantastic support, the same as in Ghent, so our Buffalo is becoming a Magpie and a Geordie. We hope to see him and Newcastle United back in the Premier League as soon as possible. We wish him all the best in his career.