Sunderland sign Cuellar
Sunderland new boy Carlos Cuellar has revealed his desire to work with Martin O'Neill again helped persuade him to head for Wearside.
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The 30-year-old Spanish defender signed a two-year deal on Monday at the Stadium of Light after his contract at Aston Villa expired, and was delighted to renew his acquaintance with the man who first brought him to England from Rangers.
O'Neill, then manager at Villa, paid around £8million for the Madrid-born player during the summer of 2008, and was quick to snap him up for a second time when the opportunity arose.
Cuellar told SAFC TV: "Ever since I heard the rumour that Sunderland were interested in signing me, I wanted to come here.
"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% out of them.
"He gets the best from every player and brings them together to make his teams very competitive."
Cuellar is O'Neills first permanent signing after the Ulsterman opted to bring in Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Wayne Bridge on loan in January having taken on the challenge of dragging Sunderland out of a fight against relegation at the start of the previous month.
He managed to do that with a run of 18 league games which brought just five defeats, and although the season finished with something of a whimper, he embarked upon his summer recruitment drive have restored an air of optimism around the club.
That came as no surprise to a man who worked under him during his successful spell at Villa Park.
Cuellar said: "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 I wanted to do that again."
Cuellar will meet his new team-mates for the first time next week and admits he cannot wait to get underway with an opening day fixture with Arsenal looming.
He said: "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."
Cuellar's arrival came a day after George McCartney secured a permanent move from Sunderland to West Ham, and his departure is unlikely to be the last this summer as O'Neill attempts to reduce the wage bill and make room for his remaining targets.