The Geordie is now winning great praise from pundits for his performances this season.
“I don’t know why my game is suddenly getting noticed. It is hard for me to answer that,” he said.
“I suppose I am playing a bit better but I feel I have been playing consistently well for a number of years now. I was in the Champions League final not so long ago so I can’t have been doing that badly.
“It is about gradual improvement. As you get older you get more experience and you have a different role in the team.
“My game all depends on what game we are playing and who we are playing against and who I am playing alongside. With the tactics and set up my game varies. You just have to adapt to each other.”