By Brian Doogan
Paul Lambert believes Joe Cole will "thrive on the responsibility" after the 32-year-old attacking midfield player vowed to play a central, leading role for his new club on and off the pitch.
Cole, capped 56 times for England and a three-time Barclays Premier League, three-time FA Cup and twice a League Cup winner with Chelsea during his 16-year top-flight career, resisted lucrative offers to move to clubs overseas, opting instead to bring his vast experience to Villa to help the team "push on" and to encourage some of the younger players to realise their potential.
The Villa manager revealed that "money was never a factor" in his discussions with the player and he is excited by the prospect of Cole, still hungry and with a point to prove, supplying the forward line and providing some mature know-how in the upcoming campaign.
"Joe's not in it for the money, he simply wants to play and prove that he's still a top professional in the Barclays Premier League, which he's always been," Lambert said.
"He'll thrive on the responsibility here. He's someone who has always stepped up to the plate. That's inherent in his character and he's the type of character we need.
"I'm delighted we've been able to bring him in to join the group. He'll enhance the group and he'll bring out a lot from players around him because he'll demand that.
"He's a humble lad in spite of everything he's achieved in the game and he's hungry as well. Money was never a factor in him coming here. He simply wants to achieve and try to win things, that's what drives him.
"For us, he's got a lot to offer - he's an intelligent footballer and his attitude is first-class.
"When we sat down and talked I was very impressed by him. He's a guy who has played at the top for many years, been capped 56 times for England which is incredible but he still has an awful lot to offer and he wants to prove himself still.
"This is a really good signing for us. If the fire wasn't still burning in him, which is the phrase he's used himself, he would have gone overseas and been content with what he's achieved.
"But that's not him. Players will learn from Joe Cole, as they will from Philippe Senderos who joined us last week. I'm looking forward to both of them being part of the group and the other players will be excited by them joining, too."
Cole revealed to AVTV that, as a young player coming through the Academy at Lilleshall, he often came to Villa Park to watch games - and that youthful enthusiasm remains.
"I came here to play football and to compete and off the field I feel I can contribute something too" Cole said.
"I've been in the position all of the guys are in now. I've been fortunate to have enjoyed a great career, playing in the biggest games, competing at three World Cups, experiencing the whole shooting match of a football career. You get to an age when you've had all that experience and I'll be looking to use it to help the team.
"Physically, I feel fresh even though the last few years have been difficult because I haven't played as much. I've been fit and I look after myself. I've got a massive passion to play football still.
"I had options elsewhere and I could have gone and earned millions but it's not about the money for me, it's about playing and competing. That's what I want to do, it's that passion for playing that's driving me on and I want to help the team kick on.
"I can't really say how excited I am for this because Villa is a massive club.
"When I was younger at Lilleshall, the national football school, I used to come and watch them. We used to go to either Villa Park, Coventry or Wolves to watch a game, whoever was at home that weekend, and we always preferred going to watch Villa because it's such a massive club.
"There were good players here at the time and it was a good time for the club, the mid-nineties. I know what it's about and I'll be committed. I live the life, I train hard and I'll give everything I can for what we want to achieve here."
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