CRAIG Gardner became Albion’s first signing of the summer in 2014.
The midfielder passed a Hawthorns medical and penned a three-year contract, plus a further year’s option in the club’s favour, on May 20 before officially joining on a Bosman transfer on July 1.
Albion beat off competition from a string of clubs to agree the deal, which came into effect once his contract expired at Barclays Premier League rivals Sunderland.
Solihull-born Gardner emerged through the youth ranks at Villa and made his professional debut for the club on Boxing Day 2005.
It proved to be the first of 80 appearances, scoring six goals, before he completed a cross-Second City switch to Blues in January 2010 for a fee in the region of £3million.
Gardner, who has a keen eye for goal, went on to enjoy 18 months at St Andrew’s and played an integral part in the club’s 2011 League Cup triumph.
His extra-time winner proved the difference against West Ham to seal a dramatic 4-3 semi-final success before he started the Wembley final versus Arsenal, only to be forced off due to injury shortly after half-time.
Gardner, who had racked up 52 appearances and scored 11 goals, completed a switch to Sunderland for around £6million in summer 2011.
He made a total of 100 outings for the Black Cats during his three years on Wearside, finding the net on 14 occasions including a consolation for Sunderland in Albion’s 4-2 victory at the Stadium of Light in November 2012.
One of those appearances came off the bench in the Capital One Cup final defeat against Manchester City in March of this year.
Gardner, older brother to Villa midfielder Gary, was also capped 14 times for England Under-21s and was part of the squad which finished runners-up at the UEFA European U21 Championship in 2009.
In total, he has made 232 club appearances, including 66 as a substitute, scoring 31 times prior to his Baggies switch.
LAST UPDATED JULY 1, 2014