PAOLO DI CANIO believes Ondrej Celustka is one of the early success stories of Sunderland’s summer spending spree.
Celustka was one of the least heralded of Sunderland’s band of 14 incoming players after arriving on a season-long loan from Turkish side Trabzonspor.
But the Czech right-back, whose loan move is with a view to a permanent switch, has been one of Sunderland’s more consistent performers over a disappointing opening fortnight of the campaign.
Head coach Di Canio believes that is down to Celustka’s desire to make the grade in English football, despite arriving at the Stadium of Light just five days before the start of the season.
Di Canio told the Echo: “To be honest, every one of the new players has done a good job, but he’s one of the most positive, because we couldn’t expect this level straight away.
“It’s not easy playing in England.
“He only had four days training with us before the start of the season.
“But he’s intelligent. You could see straight away that he’s curious. He was asking Craig Gardner what to do if the ball was here or there.
“Before, during and after the training sessions he was asking questions.
“He learns quick because he wants to learn.
“But he’s a fantastic professional, with determination, desire and, as I said when he came, he had the hunger to play in England.
“He has been fully committed in the training sessions.”
Di Canio insists he has not been taken aback by how quickly Celustka has adapted to the Premier League after the 24-year-old had played Champions League football during his time in Turkey.
But the Black Cats boss has challenged Celustka to continue improving with both his defensive and attacking contributions.
“Celustka is not a surprise to me,” added Di Canio.
“In terms of performances, he has been very good in all the games.
“He has been crucial in both defensive and attacking moments.
“He ran 60 yards to get to the line with 10 minutes to go against MK Dons (to set up Sunderland’s equaliser).
“But he has to keep going. We can’t let him think that he’s Garrincha (the legendary Brazilian World Cup winger) now!”