Former West Ham United midfielder Joe Cole has joined Aston Villa on a free transfer

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Joe Cole in action for West Ham last term. Picture: Action Images Joe Cole in action for West Ham last term. Picture: Action Images

Former England midfielder Joe Cole has joined Aston Villa on a free transfer, the club have announced.

The 32-year-old was a free agent after being released by West Ham at the end of last season.

Cole, who has also played for Chelsea and Liverpool in his career and won 56 caps for England, has signed a two-year deal at Villa Park.

He told AVTV: "I'm really excited. It all happened really quickly, I got a call maybe a week or 10 days ago and it just felt like it was a really exciting place to come at this moment."

Cole becomes Villa's second signing of the summer following the arrival of former Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos last week.

Manager Paul Lambert is hoping to revamp his squad after two seasons of battling relegation from the Barclays Premier League and Cole was impressed by the Scot's vision.

He said: "This is a massive club and there's a massive opportunity for the club to push on. That was the main factor.

"I spoke to the gaffer and we have similar views on football. He didn't need to sell the club but he explained what the view is for the future and, like I said, that was the main thing. When I spoke to the manager I knew I'd be signing.

"I'll be coming here and I'll be learning too. Obviously I'll bring my experience to the squad but you still learn every day and I want to learn.

"I know I'll learn from the manager, I'll learn from other players here and going forward together we want to get the best results for Aston Villa."

Further changes are also likely at Villa with owner Randy Lerner having put the club up for sale.

Former Sunderland and Ipswich manager Roy Keane has also been linked with a post on Lambert's backroom staff.

For Cole, the move offers a chance to prolong his career at the top level.

He was regarded as one of the most gifted players of his generation and was snapped up by Chelsea for £6.6million in 2003.

He won three Premier League titles and became an England regular during a successful seven-year spell at Stamford Bridge but injuries eventually led to him falling down the pecking order.

A move to Liverpool to 2010 failed to reignite his career but he enjoyed a successful loan spell with Lille before taking up the opportunity to return to Upton Park.

He rejoined the Hammers on an 18-month deal but he played only a a bit-part role in the season just concluded.

He last started a Barclays Premier League last December, when he scored for West Ham in a 3-3 draw against West Brom.

Cole said: "So far I've been lucky enough to have a really good career but there's still a lot more I want to achieve. The fire is still burning in me.

"I want to play at the highest level and win things still and this club fits."

Cole believes he can play a prominent role, in his preferred position, for a Villa side he believes has much to look forward to.

He said: "There is just so much potential at the club to kick on and I think we're only going to get better.

"When I talked to the manager he said I would be playing in a more central position and, having those fast players in attack and around me, I feel like I can supply them with the bullets and get them the ball in the final third."

Cole's future had seemed uncertain after he was released by West Ham, but retirement had never been on his mind.

He said: "All of the ex-players, all of the professionals that I've ever spoken to in my career say, 'Enjoy it while it lasts because it goes quick, take everything you can out of it.'

"That's one thing I have done and one thing I'm proud to say is that I've enjoyed every day of my career, every moment of it and I want to squeeze as much out of it as I can.

"I'm as excited now as I was as a 16-year-old lad going into my first season with West Ham."

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