The first and last FA Cup Final appearance for Manchester City's departing goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon


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The Independent Football

In time it will be a quiz question: Which Manchester City player started an FA Cup final despite never having played a league game for the club?

The answer will be Costel Pantilimon, the club's reserve keeper. Since he is looking to leave City in the summer, the day he comes to prominence will be the day he says his goodbyes.

His story is extraordinary. Both his parents are deaf and work building military aircraft at the Aerostar plant in Bacau eastern Romania. Pantilimon, above, speaks to them using sign language and communicates on Skype. But for Aerostar's president, Vali Voicu, however, he might never have played professionally. Voicu paid to help him finish his education and develop his football talents with the factory team while financially supporting the player's family.

Eventually he was signed by the legendary Gheorghe Hagi to play in Timisoara. Aerostar negotiated a 30 per cent sell-on clause when he was sold to City for £3 million last year. They and Voicu are still waiting.