Goalkeeper Brad Friedel claims he knew he wanted to sign for Aston Villa the minute he sat down with manager Martin O'Neill and chairman Randy Lerner.
And while some may say he has simply left a club in Blackburn with similar ambitions to his new employers, he feels Villa are on a different plane because they have so much more power in the transfer market.
Friedel, aged 37, who joined Villa at the weekend in a £2.5 million deal, is a fan of the Cleveland Browns, the National Football League club owned by his fellow Ohio native, Lerner. He says the vision for Villa espoused by chairman and manager was the deciding factor.
The United States international first learned in January that Villa may be interested in him but nothing progressed until a week ago when Blackburn finally gave permission to speak to him via new Rovers’ manager Paul Ince and chairman John Williams.
He claims that while former Blackburn manager Mark Hughes tried to hijack the deal and tempt him to Manchester City, Villa did enough to persuade him that they mean business this year in the Premier League.
Friedel said: “Once I sat with Martin O’Neill and Randy Lerner, it was an easy decision. Once I had come to the conclusion in my mind that I was prepared to leave Blackburn, where I had been for eight years, then deciding to come and commence talks with Villa and sign a contract here was quite straightforward.
“I knew there was interest from Manchester City and I believe they had put in a bid. I had a tremendous time working with Mark Hughes and I think a lot of that staff. It is always nice to be wanted but the professionalism here and the ambitions Villa showed and the way they want to move forward meant our negotiations were not long or hard and were very amicable.”
Villa finished sixth last season and the shot-stopper is confident the team plan to build on that this time. He said: “I know the chairman and Martin’s ambitions are to move on from that, as I imagine are those of the players.
“You never want to go into a season feeling you are going to do worse than the previous season. The Premier League is always difficult but we have every chance of a good season with new players coming in and those already working hard here.”
Friedel, who has also played for Liverpool, said; “To finish higher in the league than last season would be a tremendous achievement and last season the point margins were very tight. The odd goal can make all the difference.
“The ambitions at Blackburn under Mark were a little different in terms of the Champions’ League because of the cash restrictions in the transfer market. It was very difficult to get a large squad together. If you look at the payroll at Blackburn and the players that they got in at the transfer fees they got for them, then look at the league position, that must be one of the best-run clubs in the country.
“They average 23,000 people a game – which would be lower than most Premier League clubs, but they found Chris Samba for £300,000 and that doesn’t happen normally. Ryan Nelsen was on a free transfer, David Bentley cost about £1.5 million, Roque Santa Cruz was £3 million and Benni McCarthy as well.
“The transfer fees were always small and it was hard to get a large squad which is what you need if you are to progress in two or three competitions and Europe.”