Villa complete Pires deal
Former Arsenal star joins Houllier's evolution
Last Updated: 20/11/10 11:09am
Frenchman Robert Pires has announced that he has joined Aston Villa on a contract until the end of the season.
"It is a good surprise. But I am very happy because I like English football."
Robert Pires Quotes of the week
After drawn-out talks at Villa's Bodymoor Heath training ground on Thursday, the 37-year-old former Arsenal midfielder has signed a six-month deal with Gerard Houllier's club having been released by Primera Liga outfit Villarreal in the summer.
Pires had been training with Arsenal in order to maintain fitness and as a result the 79-time France international could make his debut in Villa's Premier League trip to Blackburn on Sunday, which can be seen live on Sky Sports HD1/1, subject to international clearance.
Houllier had targeted the free agent in a bid to solve Villa's injury problems in midfield and his compatriot is now looking forward to the challenge after being identified as an ideal, experienced solution.
Pires told Sky Sports News: "I start tomorrow morning with the team.
"For me, it is a good opportunity to work with Aston Villa. I am happy for the fans."
Asked how it feels to be back in English football, Pires said: "It is a good surprise. But I am very happy because I like English football."
He added: "I hope to play against Blackburn on Sunday."
Pires won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the 2002 Footballer of the Year prize during his six-year stay with Arsenal.
He told Villa's official website: "I am very happy to join Aston Villa because it's a big club in England.
"I am also thrilled to have the chance of working with Gerard Houllier. I know him.
Assistant manager Gary McAllister said: "He is a proven winner. It gets thrown around a lot these days when people say they are a winner but he is a genuine article.
"He's a European champion and he has won the World Cup as well. He has vast experience and was a fantastic player in the Premier League for Arsenal.
"People thought he was coming to the end of his career but he went to Villarreal and done well there for several seasons.
"For all the younger players - what a tremendous addition. The younger players can only learn from watching a guy like Robert on the training field.
"He will gain respect. But I am sure Robert Pires isn't coming here just to be a player that everyone is going to stand back and admire. He will want to gain the respect of the fact that he is still competitive and still able to do a job at this level."