By Brian Doogan
Brad Guzan has agreed a new four-year deal which will extend his Villa career to the end of the 2016-17 season.
The 28-year-old US international goalkeeper returned to pre-season training at the Bodymoor Heath Training Ground this morning along with fellow international players including captain Ron Vlaar, Christian Benteke, Andi Weimann, Yacouba Sylla and new singing Jores Okore.
Paul Lambert will take his squad to Germany tomorrow for a week-long training camp, boosted by the Club's player of the year in 2012-13 having committed his future long-term on top of the capture of defenders Okore and Antonio Luna, midfield players Leandro Bacuna and Aleksander Tonev, striker Nicklas Helenius as well as goalkeeper Jed Steer.
Weimann and fellow Academy graduate Nathan Baker have also agreed new deals this summer.
"This is just the start now, the start of hard work. We have to build on last year and go forward and that is very much the collective mindset at the Club," Guzan said.
"We grew together as a team last season and now it's time to kick on again. We'll welcome the new guys with open arms and allow them to join this special family that we've started to create from last season. It's an exciting time for the Club for sure.
"When you bring in new players you have fresh bodies, fresh blood, fresh excitement and you need that to prevent things from becoming stale and guys getting complacent. You want competition for places, you want guys pushing each other and helping each other. When you bring in new faces it lifts everybody.
"For me, it's an honour and a privilege to play for Aston Villa Football Club and to commit my future long-term. I'm overjoyed by it.
"To have this opportunity to commit my future, with the plans and the future being what they are going forward, it's tremendously exciting and I know that's not just for me but for everybody, including the fans. This is what Aston Villa Football Club is all about, we're a very connected and very committed group and we want to strive to be the best we can possibly be going forward. What we're building here as a Club, what the manager is building could be very special.
"From a personal standpoint, especially after last season playing consistently through virtually the entire season, hopefully now I'm coming in to some good years ahead and to be able to do that at Villa is exciting. It's going to be good times ahead.
"It's always nice when you're wanted by a club. I've had some good years here at Aston Villa and to be able to commit my future just puts a smile on my face. I'm looking forward to the future and to the challenge ahead."
Guzan joined Villa in July 2008 from Major League Soccer team Chivas USA.
As understudy to his compatriot, Brad Friedel, Guzan initially made his mark in cup competitions, most notably in the Club's march to the League Cup final in 2009-10.
His outstanding contribution last season was hailed by Villa manager Lambert as "colossal".
"Brad has been exceptional for the Club, really fantastic on and off the pitch," Lambert added.
"He's always bubbly around the place and a really solid character. He's a good guy as well which is really important. Overall, he's a credit to the Club."
Snap up the home goalkeeper jersey that Guzan will be wearing next season.