Remember when Costel Pantilimon was being cast as the villain in Nottingham Forest’s production of 2018-19?

When, despite boasting one of the healthiest collections of clean sheets in the country, the towering Romanian was very much not flavour of the month.

At a time when he could do no right in the eyes of some supporters.

Well, things appear to have changed.

Not all that dramatically.

There are those – and plenty of them – for whom Pantilimon will never be the right option between the sticks.

His most recent outing against Wigan encapsulated perfectly why he has become such a divisive figure.

Having seen one effort that he should have stopped slip by him, he then stepped up to save an 87th-minute penalty and prevent late nerves from being shredded.

Villain to hero in the space of 90 minutes.

Theme

(Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

It has been a common theme for the 31-year-old this season.

A supposed lack of aerial prowess for one so tall, poor distribution, a lack of command inside his box and positional sense.

There have been plenty of sticks used to beat the Reds’ No.1.

He is, however, the only man to have started every game.

Which suggests he must be doing something right.

It is not like he has no competition – regardless of your take on the other keeping options at the City Ground.

Aitor Karanka fancied him enough to sign him twice, while Martin O’Neill has stuck with a tried and tested performer as his last line of defence.

The current Forest boss has also offered no indication that he is about to alter that stance.

Mindset

Karanka said in the Nottingham Post of Pantilimon back in October: “I think he is much better than people think.”

The Spaniard’s successor appears to be of a similar mindset.

For all of the transfer talk which has raged around the Reds of late, how many goalkeepers have been mentioned?

Tom Heaton was mooted by the Daily Mail as a target in early January, but has since told Sky Sports that he is going nowhere after winning his place back at Burnley.

Keiren Westwood was billed as a potential option, while there was even talk of the hatchet being buried with Karl Darlow as Football Insider reported on interest from Aston Villa and Leeds.

It has all gone a bit quiet since then.

There have been no murmurings of keeper additions since O’Neill took the reins, and that tells its own story.

Forest have a first-choice and will be sticking with him.

And with that in mind, a deadline day – 12 months on from making his own move to Trentside – appears set to be decidedly more relaxing for Pantilimon than it looked like it might be a few weeks ago.

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