After signing a new deal with Sunderland, Patrick van Aanholt has heaped praise on his manager, Sam Allardyce, for the faith he has put in him this season.
Van Aanholt put pen to paper on a new four-year contract yesterday, which will see him stay at the Stadium of Light until 2020. However, when the season got underway, not many would have imagined that being how his campaign would end.
The Dutchman struggled massively at the beginning of the campaign, with his poor performances reflected in the Black Cats' inability to keep clean sheets. Often, he was at fault for sloppy goals conceded due to poor positioning, terrible tracking or after being simply too committed on the attack.
Once Dick Advocaat left, Allardyce could have chosen to drop the left-back, but he instead worked hard to improve van Aanholt's defensive game and it has paid dividends, as the former Chelsea man grew into one of the team's best performers towards the end of the season.
For that, he thanks Allardyce, telling the club's official website: "I didn't start the season very well under Dick, but the boss gave me the confidence.
"I paid him back on the pitch and I think I've done that right," he added, as he looks forward to another four years on Wearside.
Van Aanholt enjoying his time on Wearside
Not only does van Aanholt feel he owes something to Allardyce, but to Sunderland as a whole too.
"Two years ago, I had no Premier League experience and that's why I came here," he explained, leaving Chelsea for regular game time in the North-East.
In his time with the Black Cats, he believes he's "shown what [he's] capable of" too, and is now "looking forward to next season."
He continued, saying that he's "very pleased and happy to sign a new deal" as he has "enjoyed playing football at Sunderland.
"I want to stay here for a long time," van Aanholt concluded, and the fans will be hoping the same if he continues to develop as well as he has this season.