Estonia goalkeeper Mart Poom has signed for Sunderland AFC in a two-month loan deal from Derby County FC.
The Football Association (FA) gave Sunderland special dispensation to complete the deal outside the normal transfer window as Howard Wilkinson's side has two goalkeepers - Thomas Sörensen and Thomas Myhre - out with long term injuries.
The Premiership side have reportedly agreed a deal with Derby which will allow them to sign the experienced international goalkeeper for €3.9m when the winter transfer window opens in January, but for the time being, Poom is simply enjoying the prospect of top-flight football after Derby's relegation to the English first division at the end of the 2001/02 season.
"It is extremely important for me to be back in the Premiership," he said. "This chance came unexpectedly, but I am glad it came. I am not thinking about what will happen in two months, I have to prove I am worth signing for Sunderland and just play my own game. Of course I face very tough competition from Danish, Norwegian and Austrian goalkeepers when all are fit, but this is nothing new to me."
The financial details of the deal were undisclosed, but the Derby County chief executive Keith Loring said: "We are delighted it has reached a satisfactory conclusion financially." Poom cost Derby only €780,000 when joined the Pride Park side in March 1997. This summer, cash-strapped Derby surprisingly turned down lucrative offers from Everton FC and Manchester United FC.
'A top quality goalkeeper'
Sunderland manager Howard Wilkinson knew exactly who he bought. "I have been aware of Mart since he first came into English football with Portsmouth and I have followed his progress at Derby very closely," he told Sunderland's official website. "He is a top quality goalkeeper with lots of experience and I am delighted he has agreed to join us."
Poom made 133 Premiership appearances for Derby and was voted as club's Player of the Year in 1999/2000. Sunderland missed the deadline to register Poom with the FA, so he is ineligible to play in their game against Liverpool FC at Anfield on Sunday. Austrian Jürgen Macho will play in his place.
Poom will travel to Estonia today, where he will join the rest of the national squad on Monday to play a friendly against Iceland. 30-year-old Poom has 85 international caps and has been voted Estonian Player of the Year five times.
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