Costel Pantilimon has pledged his loyalty to Sunderland after a successful maiden campaign at the Stadium of Light.
Pantilimon was arguably the pick of Sunderland’s signings last season after keeping 11 clean sheets from 28 Premier League starts following his Bosman move from Manchester City.
It’s a good thing for me that I played consistently and was part of a good teamCostel Pantilimon
The Romanian’s performances have not gone unnoticed, although it is understood Sunderland will resist any attempts to prise him away from Wearside this summer, with another three years left to run on his Black Cats contract.
And Pantilimon, himself, insists he is happy to stay at Sunderland after the club’s investment in his services 12 months ago.
“I wanted to play more and I chose to go to that club,” he told the press in his homeland.
“As I have said all along, I am very thankful for the opportunity from the people at Sunderland to give me a great chance to play for the club.
“It’s normal to want more, but I want to take it slowly.
“At the moment I am very happy for what happened this year, it’s a good thing for me that I played consistently and was part of a good team.
“Dick Advocaat was able to give us confidence at a time when we were suffering and that was seen in our results.”
Pantilimon’s heroics in Sunderland’s penultimate game at Arsenal - the goalless draw which guaranteed their survival - saw him sustain a knee injury in the process.
That ruled the 28-year-old out of Sunderland’s final outing at Chelsea, plus this weekend’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Northern Ireland.
It’s a pivotal encounter in the qualification campaign, with Romanian currently topping Group F, with Northern Ireland one point behind them in second place.
“I’m very sorry that I cannot get together with my international colleagues at this time,” he added.
“We know very well that it’s a very important match.
“It’s a game that can make us 70 per cent certain that we qualify for the tournament.
“Unfortunately, this injury prevents my presence on the pitch.”