By Sean Colfer
New Aston Villa midfielder Tom Cleverley has hailed the influence of Champions League winning midfielders Paul Lambert and Roy Keane in his decision to join the club on a season-long loan deal from Manchester United, with an option to make the move permanent.
"The prospect of working under the manager and Roy, who were both fantastic midfielders in their playing careers, made the decision to come to Villa an easy one," explained the 25-year-old England international.
"I'm looking forward to working with them but also the other really good midfield players that the club have, like Fabian Delph, Ashley Westwood and other new lads like Kieran Richardson, Joe Cole and Carlos Sanchez."
Cleverley has been impressed with Villa's start to the season and with the positive, energetic style of play they have shown while winning seven out of a possible nine points so far this term.
"I've been watching Villa games this year and it's been a really good start and, with the upcoming fixtures all big games, hopefully I can bring a bit of big game experience and add to the squad and help us to win some games.
"It's a team that plays the style of football that I like. They play with high energy, they pass and move and there are a lot of good young players. The manager told me the way that he'd like me to play and it all sat perfectly for me. I'm very happy to be coming down to play for Villa."
Cleverley is also determined to make an impact at Villa Park and boost his chances of adding to his 13 England caps.
"First and foremost I have got to get back playing and hopefully as a by-product of that I can get back in the England team. The thing I am concentrating on though is trying to come in and hit the ground running so I can help Aston Villa. Playing football is what matters most to me and I'm looking forward to getting back to what I know I can do. This is the kind of club where I can do that.
"Villa Park is one of those grounds that I always look forward to playing at. The pitch is always fantastic, the atmosphere is always good and it's one of those historic grounds that you always remember. It's had FA Cup semi-finals and even England games when Wembley was being renovated so it's a very historic ground and it's somewhere I'm really looking forward to playing my club football."
Paul Lambert said: "Tom brings big game experience to the club, he's played international football for England and he still has great potential to kick on in his career.
"There's a lot of good football ahead of him if he performs the way we think he can perform and we're delighted to have been able to bring him in to join the group.
"Allied to the players we had brought in already during the window as well as the strong start we've made to the season, this is another good step forward and we want to continue to build on our progress into the season."
Basingstoke-born Cleverley started his youth career at Bradford City before moving to Manchester United in 2000 as an 11-year-old.
He came through the ranks at United, playing for the youth and reserve teams before moving to Leicester City on loan in January 2009.
He played 15 times for the East Midlands club and scored twice as they won promotion from League One.
He moved to Watford the following year on a season-long loan and played 33 times, scoring 11 goals and winning player of the year as the Hornets finished 11th.
He impressed during preseason with Manchester United in summer 2010, eventually joining Wigan Athletic on loan for the season. He played 25 times for the Latics and was one of the stand out performers as they finished 16th and retained their Premier League status. He scored three goals and assisted two more during his time at the DW Stadium.
He returned to Manchester United in 2011 and made his competitive debut for the club in the Community Shield victory against Manchester City in August. He endured several injuries but played a further 14 times in his first season with the team as they lost out to their city rivals on goal difference for the title.
In 2012-13 he played 22 Premier League matches for United, as well as five times in the Champions League and five more in domestic cups, proving a key figure for United as they won the Premier League title in Sir Alex Ferguson's last season at the club.
Last season he played 22 Premier League games, four in the Champions League and four in domestic cups. During his time with the first team, he has won a Premier League trophy and two Community Shields.
Cleverley has played 13 times for England, making his debut in England's first match after Euro 2012, against Italy at the Stade de Suisse in Bern.
He played a large part in England's qualification for the 2014 World Cup, playing in seven of the ten group H games. He also played five times for Great Britain during the 2012 Olympic Games.