Costel Pantilimon – Gulliver Between Black Cats
Costel Pantilimon had no chance of playing for Manchester City, being an an eternal backup for Joe Hart. Only Manuel Pellegrini offered him some chances during 2013/2014 season. However, after 7 matches in a row in Premier League, Joe Hart became the number 1 goalkeeper for City again. After 3 seasons, the 27 years old Romanian goalkeeper was transferred by Sunderland. Costel Pantilimon played 3 matches in a row for the Black Cats and amazed everyone with his amazing reflexes and saves.
After his free transfer to Sunderland, Pantilimon became the backup for the more experienced and renowned Vito Mannone. After 9 EPL games in which Mannone was beaten 17 times, Sunderland’s manager, Gustavo Poyet, decided to retire the Italian goalkeeper on the bench. This was Costel Pantilimon‘s chance, who played 3 remarkable matches for Sunderland. Gulliver, as he is called, managed to make some incredible saves against Chamak or Lukaku. The Romanian goalkeeper conceded only 2 goals in 3 Premier matches (1 own goal from Wes Brown, and 1 penalty transformed by Leighton Banes), was included in the EPL’s Team of Week for his performance against Crystal Palace and declared Man of the Match against Leicester. According to whoscored.com, Costel Pantilimon has an average score of 7.55 in 3 Premier League matches. Gulliver had some well timed saves against Lukaku, in Sunderland – Everton 1-1. With these amazing stats, Costel surely won a place in Sunderland’s first 11. Not only that Pantilimon saved Gus Poyet’s position, but the Romanian also showed that Manchester City did a mistake by releasing him because the Romanian has some very fine qualities (he is tall – 2.03 meters, which makes him the tallest player in the Premier League; has very good reflexes and he rarely concedes long-shot goals). Unfortunately, Sunderland has a tough schedule in the coming weeks, having to face the unbeaten Chelsea, the oil-rich Manchester City and the wounded Liverpool. Costel Pantilimon will be a key player for the Black Cats, because some good performances against those teams would mean that the Romanian goalkeeper might get a transfer to Big 4 team again. Despite the big names that Sunderland will play against, Pantilimon is used to play against strong opposition. He is an experienced goalkeeper, that helped Manchester City to defeat Arsenal (6-3 in Premier League) and Chelsea (2-0 in FA Cup) last season.
Costel Pantilimon‘s parents are both def. The Romanian giant liked to play in the attack as a child, but his father suggested him to become a goalkeeper. Gulliver listened to his father advice and turned into one of the best Romanian goalkeepers. Before joining Manchester City, Pantilimon played for Aerostar Bacau (between 2003 and 2005) and Politehnica Timisoara (2006-2011). Politehnica Timisoara transferred Costel at the age of 19. After playing a season for Politehnica Timisoara’s reserves team, Costel established as a regular during 2007/2008 season. Costel Pantilimon impressed with his performance against Shaktar Donetsk in the qualifying rounds for Champions League in 2009. Manchester City loaned the giant Romanian goalkeeper for one year, as a cover for Joe Hart. City bought Pantilimon for around £ 3 million, after activating the transfer clause. Costel Pantilimon managed to concede only one goal in 2012-2013 FA Cup, but Roberto Mancini refused to bring him into the first squad in the final against Wigan. Many Citizens are still blaming Mancini for this poor decision (City surprisingly lost the final against Wigan). Moreover, City fans are angry because Pantilimon was a better reserve for Joe Hart than Willy Caballero (who conceded 7 goals in 4 matches).
Sunderland definitely signed a top quality goalkeeper. It would be interesting to see Costel Pantilimon’s performance during a full season, because until now we saw only glimpses of what he can. Pantilimon needs continuity, but also a chance in Sunderland’s first 11 would be a test of consistency for the Romanian goalkeeper.