The persistence of Aston Villa manager David O'Leary paid off last night when he signed Southampton striker Kevin Phillips for £1 million.
O'Leary had hoped to buy the 31 - year- old ex-Sunderland forward in the January transfer window.
Villa's efforts were rebuffed but Saints agreed to sell Phillips, who was one of their highest earners, following their relegation from the Premiership last month.
Phillips has agreed a lucrative two-year contract worth about £ 20,000 a week. O'Leary's fourth signing of the summer joins Patrik Berger, Aaron Hughes and Stuart Taylor.
The striker, who started his professional career at Watford, will be reunited with former Sunderland team- mates Thomas Sorensen and Gavin McCann when pre-season training starts next Wednesday.
Phillips, who scored 13 times last season, said: "I'm delighted to be back in the Premiership and to come to such a great club is a good move for me.
"I know the manager has been interested in signing me for some time and when it became clear Villa were still in for me this summer there was no doubt in my mind. I didn't want to go anywhere else. It's a boost as a player to know the manager rates you so highly and hopefully I can justify that faith with a few goals here next season.
"I've never had a problem setting myself targets, wherever I've played. I always set my sights on 20 goals a season and that has to be the target here next season.
"I know I'm not guaranteed a place but I'm determined to make my mark and show I can still get goals in the Premiership."
Hitchin-born Phillips will compete with Juan Pablo Angel, Darius Vassell and Luke Moore for a place in attack and O'Leary will hope the 5ft 7in forward can recapture the form which earned him eight England caps while at Sunderland.
Phillips scored 132 goals in 236 appearances for the Black Cats - including 30 in 1999-2000 - and won the first of his eight caps in April 1999 in a 1-1 draw against Hungary.
He last pulled on an England shirt in February 2002, having failing to score in any of his appearances, but that did not deter Saints from buying Phillips for £3.25 million following Sunderland's relegation from the top flight in 2003.
Phillips scored 27 goals in 59 starts during his time at St Mary's and becomes Saints' first high-profile player to leave since dropping out of the Premiership.
His arrival will create more competition and proves Villa can function properly without chairman Doug Ellis, who remains in hospital following a triple heart bypass operation. But O'Leary is still searching for a top calibre player to help the team qualify for the Uefa Cup.
Villa have made £5 million bids for Newcastle striker Craig Bellamy and Manchester City defender Sylvain Distin - and O'Leary is hopeful of bagging at least one of them before the Premiership campaign.