Manchester City’s giant goalkeeper, Costel Pantilimon, will take his place in goal for next weekend’s FA Cup final, manager Roberto Mancini has confirmed.
The 26-year-old has featured throughout City’s cup run, putting in a string of impressive displays, with England number one Joe Hart watching on from the bench.
And Mancini confirmed he would not be ditching the Romanian stopper, now the club have reached the final.
“We decided this at the start of the season,” said the Italian. “Pantilimon deserves to play.
“Joe won the FA Cup two years ago, he won the Premier League last year, he is the best keeper in England.
“I think he should be happy his second keeper can play in a big game.”
Pantilimon was at the Etihad Stadium on loan last season and joined on a permanent deal for this campaign, for a fee worth £3million.
The 6ft 8in keeper may well have expected to play second fiddle to Hart – one of the world’s top stoppers – and has never featured in a league game for the Citizens.
However, Mancini trusted Pantilimon for City’s cup run and the keeper has repaid his faith, helping the club all the way to the final.
The boss is delighted with his contributions and insists that, despite being desperate to play at Wembley, Hart understands the decision.
“I know he wants to play but we decided at the start of the season it was important for Pantilimon to play in the two cups,” Mancini added.
City will meet Wigan Athletic in the Wembley final on Saturday, as they seek to regain their 2011 trophy and end this campaign with some silverware.
Image courtesy of mcfc, via YouTube, with thanks.