Watford goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon lifts lid on 'strange' Sunderland exit

Ex-Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon made his Watford debut on Saturday
Ex-Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon made his Watford debut on Saturday
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Costel Pantilimon admits he doesn't really know what led to him going from Sunderland's No 1 to signing for Premier League rivals Watford.

Pantilimon penned a three-and-a-half year deal at Vicarage Road after Sam Allardyce freed up funds on Sunderland's wage bill by moving on the goalkeeper.

But the giant Romanian has revealed his surprise at how quickly he fell out of favour at the Stadium of Light.

Pantilimon - who had made 49 appearances for the Black Cats - has also denied reports he would have been in line for a new deal if he'd played another game for Sunderland.

In a revealing interview, Pantilimon said: "It is a strange situation.

"I don’t really know what happened in the last three weeks.

"I had a discussion with the manager [Sam Allardyce] and I didn't feel what he said reflected the reality.

"It is his call though.

"I think I did a good job there and I still have a good relationship with people at the club and my teammates.

"But I chose to come to Watford and I think that was the best deal for my future.

"I don't want to discuss it [leaving Sunderland] too much because I have a lot of things to say that maybe I shouldn't.

"So I'll leave it like this," Pantilimon told the Watford Observer.

And on the reports he was in line for a new deal if he made 50 appearances for Sunderland, Pantilimon added: "I heard about this.

"It isn't true.

"There were different reasons why I left but now they are not important."

Pantilimon joined Watford as No 2 to Brazilian Heurelho Gomes but he made his first team debut on Saturday in their FA Cup clash with Nottingham Forest.

He has no intention of sitting on the bench long-term, with Pantilimon ready to fight Gomes for a regular place in the starting line-up.

Pantilimon, who had an offer from Monaco too, added: "It will not be easy because he [Gomes] has done a good job.

"The people at Watford really respect him.

"But I have come to help the team and for a place in the first XI.

"I think staying in England is the best option for me to continue my career.

"Watford are a new club in the Premier League but they are building and want to be in the Premier League for a long time in the future.

"That is exactly the reason I chose Watford."

Pantilimon arrived at Sunderland on a Bosman deal in the summer of 2014 from Manchester City.

He impressed in his maiden campaign at the Stadium of Light last season, even if his form dipped this time around.