CARLOS Cuellar admits the prospect of reuniting with Martin O’Neill was the key factor behind his move to the Stadium of Light.
Bosman arrival Cuellar was unveiled as Sunderland’s first summer signing yesterday after putting the final touches to a two-year deal with the Black Cats over the weekend.
There was plenty of interest in the 30-year-old following the conclusion of his Aston Villa stint, with Seville and Malaga both keen to take the Spaniard back to his homeland.
But Cuellar was eager to remain in the Premier League and jumped at the chance to work under O’Neill for a second spell after the Sunderland boss spent almost £8million to take the defender to Villa Park in 2008.
“Ever since I heard the rumour that Sunderland were interested in signing me, I wanted to come here,” said Cuellar.
“To work again with the gaffer Martin O’Neill and with everyone talking so well about the club, I didn’t have any problem and said straight away I wanted to come.
“He is so clever, he knows everyone very well and knows how to push everyone to get 100 per cent out of them.
“He gets the best from every player and brings them together to make his teams very competitive.
“He did so well at Villa. I know how hard he works and what he can do with his teams.
“The manager is one of the best. He knows me and I know him. Everything is easy.
“I have been happy working with him before and I wanted to do that again.”
Cuellar made 94 Premier League appearances for Villa, predominantly in his favoured position of central defence, although O’Neill also used him as a right-back.
The Madrid-born defender will join up with his new team-mates for the start of pre-season training next week and says he is eager to begin work after becoming O’Neill’s first permanent signing as Sunderland boss.
“I am very excited and want to start straight away,” he added.
“Everyone has told me that the atmosphere in the stadium is unbelievable and I know this from playing against Sunderland in the past.
“It is very important to feel that support when you are playing.
“I am the happiest man to be here, to work and try to show my skills and quality.
“I think we are going to be a hard team to beat. We have good players with quality and can play face-to-face against everyone in the league.”