Costel Pantilimon believes Sebastian Coates just needed the chance to show his pedigree in a Sunderland shirt.
On-loan Liverpool centre-half Coates had made only four Premier League starts for Sunderland prior to the arrival of Dick Advocaat, yet since being given his chance in last month’s draw at Stoke City, the Uruguayan has played a key role in keeping the Black Cats in the top flight.
Wednesday night’s stalemate at Arsenal was Sunderland’s third successive clean sheet, and goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon – a huge reason himself for the blank at the Emirates – has witnessed the Black Cats’ greater defensive resolve.
But he is not surprised by Coates’ contribution after his experiences for Uruguay, and the £7million that Liverpool invested three years ago.
“I appreciate he’s a young player, but I’m not sure people realise that he’s won a lot of caps for the national team,” said Pantilimon.
“He’s played in the Copa America.
“Now he’s showing it here and he’s helped us in these last few games.
“You’ve got to take your chance when you get it in the Premier League and he’s showing he can be part of this team.
“It’s not only him. We’re showing that we can be part of this team and we have to believe that we can be successful.”
Pantilimon takes a huge chunk of credit himself for Sunderland’s latest clean sheet after a string of superb saves against Arsenal secured the point the Black Cats needed to be mathematically certain of Premier League football.
Sunderland now head into Sunday’s final game of the season at champions Chelsea freed from relegation worries, with Hull and Newcastle left to fight it out to avoid joining Burnley and QPR in the Championship.
“Every save I make is to help the team. It’s my job,” added Pantilimon.
“Football is all about teamwork and I’m happy I can work with these players and I can be part of this team.
“It was a tough game at Arsenal and we had a little bit of luck but sometimes you need that, especially under such big pressure when it’s not easy to play in a fight against relegation.
“It has been a tough few weeks but we are happy now and we can enjoy it together. Importantly, so can the fans.”