London - Former England midfielder Joe Cole has prolonged his top-flight career by joining Aston Villa.
The Birmingham club, who flirted with relegation from the English Premier League, before finishing five points clear of the drop last season, announced Tuesday that Cole had signed a two-year deal.
Former England midfielder Cole, 32, was a free agent after being released by West Ham last season.
Cole, who has also played for Chelsea and Liverpool, won 56 caps for England.
“I'm really excited,” he told AVTV, the club's in-house television station.
“It all happened really quickly, I got a call maybe a week or 10 days ago and it just felt like it was a really exciting place to come at this moment.”
Cole becomes Villa's second pre-season signing after former Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos arrived last week.
Villa manager Paul Lambert is looking to revamp his squad despite the uncertainty caused by US-based owner Randy Lerner's announcement last month that he wants to sell the club.
Fans of the Midlands side - champions of England in 1981 and European Cup winners a year later - have seen their side battling relegation for each of the past two seasons but Cole believes the time is ripe for a revival.
“This is a massive club and there's a massive opportunity for the club to push on. That was the main factor,” he said.
“I spoke to the gaffer (Lambert) and we have similar views on football. He didn't need to sell the club but he explained what the view is for the future and, like I said, that was the main thing. When I spoke to the manager I knew I'd be signing.
“I'll be coming here and I'll be learning too. Obviously I'll bring my experience to the squad but you still learn every day and I want to learn.”
Cole has just finished a second spell at West Ham, the club where he made his name as one of the most talented English footballers of his generation.
He moved from east to west London in 2003 after joining Chelsea in a £6.6 million transfer.
During his seven years at Stamford Bridge he won three Premier League titles and became an England regular before injuries saw him drop out of first-team contention.
Cole joined Liverpool in 2010 but the move was not a success but a loan spell at French club Lille revived his career before he returned to where it all began fr him at Upton Park.
However, he struggled for game time under Hammers manager Sam Allardyce's plans, with Cole's last Premier League in December when he scored in a 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion.
Cole said: “So far I've been lucky enough to have a really good career but there's still a lot more I want to achieve. The fire is still burning in me.
“I want to play at the highest level and win things still and this club fits...I'm as excited now as I was as a 16-year-old lad going into my first season with West Ham.”