By Brian Doogan
Aly Cissokho believes he was destined to play for Aston Villa having fallen in love with Villa Park during his Barclays Premier League debut last season.
The 26-year-old French international left back has signed a four-year deal subject to international clearance having completed his switch from La Liga side Valencia.
Cissokho spent last season on loan at Liverpool, making 19 appearances and helping the Reds finish second in the Premier League to qualify for this season's Champions League.
On his return to Villa Park Cissokho revealed how the atmosphere during that game resulted in him falling instantly for the compelling drama that is Premier League football - and for Aston Villa.
"Destiny has made it so that Villa Park was where I played my first game and now one year later I am wearing the shirt," Cissokho told AVTV.
"I remember everything about the game because it was my first here in England - the pitch, the stadium, the fans, everything was incredible.
"I remember the atmosphere created by the Villa fans was so good even though Liverpool won! It was a good game and I will always remember it because it was my first in the Premier League and it was here at Aston Villa."
Cissokho has arrived at Villa having played for a number of top European clubs and believes that his experience, coupled with the experience already in the squad, will help to inspire the Club's talented younger players in the coming campaign.
"I have had many experiences and played in lots of different countries and cultures," he added.
"I'm going to give my best and all the experience I have had will help me during my time with Villa. I know I can give my best for the team.
"After I finished my loan with Liverpool I was keen to come back to play football in England. I knew that Aston Villa was interested and I was very excited to come here.
"It is very exciting to meet the squad and to start training with them. Day by day I will be speaking with my team-mates and this will help me to settle in quickly. My mentality is always to give my best for my team-mates and for the fans.
"The squad we have here is very good. We have some talented players. I know lots of them, like Joe Cole, Christian Benteke, Gabby Agbonlahor and Kieran Richardson and these players will bring experience also. With the young players we have, too, the mix is very good."
Villa manager Paul Lambert said: "Aly will bring a lot of experience with the clubs he's been at and the experience he already has of playing in the Barclays Premier League with Liverpool. This will stand him in really good stead and stand us in good stead as well.
"He has big game experience, he's not a novice. You can see that with the clubs he's been at and the way he is as a lad. He comes across really well. He is somebody I think will be an asset.
"He's big, strong and powerful and he had a good taste of it at Liverpool.
"Aly's also at a good age and I think he'll be a big asset, no question.
"There's great competition for places now and that's what we're trying to create - competition for places and strength in depth ahead of what is going to be another big challenge.
"We've brought some new lads in and hopefully we can bring in one or two more players to make the squad even stronger. We're going to need everybody because the Premier League isn't a small-squad game. You need everybody to get through the games.
"It's great we've been able to bring in some players to help the group. We'll try and do a couple of others things if we can and then when we get Christian and Libor back and Joe back, too, we'll be stronger and that's what we need."
Cissokho started his professional career for FC Gueugnon in Ligue 2 after being promoted from the youth ranks. He made his debut in May 2007 and went on to play 25 times for the first team before he left following their relegation in 2008. He moved to Portuguese Primeira Liga side Vitoria where he played 18 times before securing a move to Portuguese giants Porto in January 2009.
At Porto he played 23 times, including his first appearances in the Champions League and was part of the team that won the Portuguese title in 2009 after going unbeaten in the league during Cissokho's spell.
In July 2009 he moved to French side Lyon for €15m. He spent three full seasons at the Stade de Gerland, playing 137 times in all and scoring twice, and was part of the team that won the Coupe de France in 2011-12.
In August 2012 Cissokho moved to Spain to play for Valencia. He played 36 times in La Liga and scored twice in the 2012-13 season as Valencia finished fifth and qualified for the Europa League.
In August 2013 he moved to Liverpool on a season-long loan. While at Anfield he played 19 times and helped the Reds finish second in the Premier League and qualify for the Champions League.
Cissokho has secured one cap for France to date in a friendly against Norway in August 2010.