By Brian Doogan
Jores Okore is ready to take responsibility to be a leader in Paul Lambert's young and emerging Villa team having completed a move from FC Nordsjaelland, last season's runners-up in Denmark's top-flight Superliga.
The 20-year-old defender underwent a medical today and agreed a four-year deal which will run to 2017.
Manager Lambert believes the Danish international has the potential to "make a huge impact" in the Barclays Premier League in coming seasons and Okore is thrilled to be part of Villa's hungry, aspirational team which he is determined to help propel towards "a higher level of performance [and] into a new era".
"We're a young team and we played some really good football over the second half of last season which is something we want to build on now as players, as a team and as a club," Okore said.
"I know there is great potential in the team. I have watched many of our games because the Premier League is very popular back in Denmark.
"I know also that we have a good coach and this is a really good club. This is the right club for me, I feel it straight away.
"We have a lot to show and we have a long way to go. We want to get to an even higher level of performance and show people who we are, that we can be a really good team. The manager is determined to develop us and to help us become better players, proving to people that we can become a top team. We can get some exciting things going here.
"I'm really excited and I'm looking forward to seeing my new teammates and getting together with them to train and get prepared to play some Premier League games.
"I'm happy to be wearing the shirt and I feel like I'm looking really good in it - it feels very comfortable. I'm looking forward to us going out next season, performing as a team and showing our potential.
"We have good players all around. It's going to be tough but I really hope I can go in and show myself and be a big part of the team. I want to bring something new to our game and really help the team into a new era. That's what I hope to do.
"If I was to describe myself, I think I'm a big, strong defender with good pace. Obviously, my priority is to be a really good defensive player but I think I can bring something to our game offensively, too, and maybe start some attacks. But the foremost thing will be to defend well and after that think about whatever else I may be able to contribute.
"We have players who have experience of the Premier League and hopefully I can also bring something from my experience in the Champions League. I'm looking forward to playing with my new team-mates.
"It's going to be exciting to play in a stadium like Villa Park and I'm looking forward to that. The atmosphere, I can tell, is incredible and I know the fans here are very passionate. This is an historic football club and I'm delighted to be a part of it now.
"It was really nice to hear some very nice comments from [former Villa and Danish international defender] Martin Laursen. It means a lot. I hope I can bring what he brought to the team and some of my own style as well. Martin was a great player for this club and I don't want to build it up too much. I have to come in and work hard and that's what I intend to do. I have a really good coach who will help me to perform my role, to be a leader in the squad, to take responsibility and perform well."
Okore has been an integral part of FC Nordsjaelland's unprecedented success over the past three seasons, winning their first Superliga title in 2011-12 and the Danish Cup in 2010-11.
He made his only appearance of the 2009-10 campaign in the Danish Cup and has played 71 times since then, including five appearances in the 2012-13 Champions League.
Okore made his debut for the Danish national team in November 2011.
He has played seven times for his country and was part of the squad that travelled to Ukraine for Euro 2012, though he did not play in the tournament.
He was named to the Danish League XI, a team made up of the best players from the Danish Superliga that plays during the league's winter break, in both 2012 and 2013 and in 2012 was named the under-21 player of the year by the Danish FA.
Lambert believes that Okore's acquisition will bolster his central defensive unit and imbue real competition for places, which he wants to engender throughout the team.
"He's only 20 years of age and that's good but he's also an international player at a really young age and he's played Champions League football as well, which is testament to his potential," Lambert said.
"Jores has played in big games but he's a very humble lad and he will be a really good addition to our team and to our squad. I'm pleased that we've signed a player of his stature, for he is someone who can come in and make a huge impact.
"There's a great opportunity for him here and the competition for places is something that's really important. You want to try to have that throughout the team."
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