Costel Pantilimon: Why I left Sunderland to join Watford

Costel Pantilimon. Picture by FRANK REID
Costel Pantilimon. Picture by FRANK REID
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Costel Pantilimon says joining Watford was the “best option” for him after falling out-of-favour at Sunderland.

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

I found out a few days ago and I thought it was the best option for me to come here

Costel Pantilimon

The Romanian lost his place as Sunderland number one last month and with Jordan Pickford recalled from a loan spell at Preston, the ex-Manchester City man fell to third choice in Allardyce’s pecking order.

La Liga outfit Espanyol were interested in Pantilimon, albeit they were struggling to match the 28-year-old’s Sunderland wages.

But with Watford sitting comfortably in mid-table in their first season back in the Premier League, Pantilimon jumped at the chance of joining the Hornets.

Pantilimon said: “I found out a few days ago and I thought it was the best option for me to come here.

“I like what has happened here, the management, the players and I think I made the right choice.

“There are some very good players and the club is in a very good position, especially in the first year in the Premier League.

“I think it’s perfect and I hope to help the team to grow and get to the best level we can.

“I’m hoping to give the fans a good keeper and to help the team.

“I think this is the most important thing at the moment. For everyone, every player, to build and help this team to stay up and have some good results.”

Pantilimon arrived at Sunderland on a Bosman deal in the summer of 2014 and impressed in his maiden campaign at the Stadium of Light last season, even if his form dipped this time around.

He managed to oust reigning Player of the Year Vito Mannone from the Sunderland number one spot, and will face a similar fight at Watford to displace first-choice keeper Heurelho Gomes.

Pantilimon added: “He’s a very good keeper, I know him from when we played against Watford, and he is a very nice guy.

“It’s normal to have to fight for your position, it’s normal to have competition. I respect everyone and I just want to help the team.

“I like what’s happened here and I like the team, and I hope to have the chance to help the team also.

“I have come here to be part of this group and to have good results together.”