Former Everton and Man City defender reunites with Irvine
ALBION have pulled off a major coup by beating a host of clubs to the signing of England international Joleon Lescott.
The 31-year-old centre-half will officially join the Baggies on a Bosman transfer in July, after passing a Hawthorns medical and penning a two-year contract, plus a further performance-related year’s option.
He arrives at the club as a free agent, having seen his five-year stay at Manchester City end with a second Barclays Premier League winners’ medal in three seasons.
Lescott will meet his new team-mates for the first time when he reports for pre-season training on July 7.
He becomes Alan Irvine’s first signing, less than a week after he was announced as the Baggies’ new Head Coach.
And the Scot is delighted to be reunited with the defender, following their successful time together at Everton.
“I’m delighted we’ve been able to agree a deal with Joleon,” said Irvine.
“He’s an England international and a proven Premier League player, who has been at the top level for a number of years.
“He’s got Premier League and cup medals to his name and has had a fantastic career so far.
“When we realised he was available and there was a realistic chance of getting him here we started to work very hard on it.
“Full credit to the board and everyone at the club for getting this done as quickly and effectively as they did.
“I know Joleon and the type of personality and character he is, in addition to knowing what he can do as a player.
“He’s a great professional and he will add to a number of very good professionals who are already in the squad.
“It’s vitally important for me that we don’t go into a Premier League season with only three centre-backs at senior level – and I’m delighted with the four proven centre-backs we now have.
“Nobody is guaranteed a place in the team; I have to pick the best two, or sometimes we might play with a three, and I have to work out the ones who can do the best job in any particular game.”
Lescott, who has 26 England caps to his name, also lifted the FA Cup and League Cup during his time at the Etihad Stadium, and has a wealth of experience in European competition.
He becomes the Baggies’ second summer signing, following in Craig Gardner’s footsteps.
Technical Director Terry Burton added: “Joleon is the second of two quality signings we have made so far this summer and we hope to continue in that vein.
“Joleon and Craig will not only add quality to the squad but character as well, which is vitally important for the Premier League challenge.”
The 6ft2in ace was scouted by Wolves as a youngster and made his senior debut, aged 17, against Sheffield Wednesday, at Molineux in August 2000.
Fans voted him young player of the year, an accolade that was repeated the following season.
He helped Wanderers reach the Barclays Premier League by beating Sheffield United 3-0 in the 2004 Play-Off final at Cardiff but had to sit out the next season after major knee surgery, and the team were relegated.
He returned to fitness to claim the player of the year award and was snapped up by Everton for £5million, making his Goodison debut in August 2006.
Regular accolades followed, particularly in 2007/08 when he weighed in with ten goals in all competitions.
At international level Lescott won caps at Under-18s, Under-20s, Under-21s and England B levels before being called up for the senior squad by Steve McClaren in September 2007. He made his debut as a substitute in a 3-0 win over Estonia a month later.
In August 2009 City splashed out £22million for his services.
He was a strong contender for England's 2010 World Cup squad but his 2009/10 campaign was disrupted by injury, and when he missed the last nine games of the season Fabio Capello omitted him from the 30-strong provisional squad.
He returned to the fold under Roy Hodgson for Euro 2012 and was one of the Three Lions' most consistent performers in his three appearances in Poland/Ukraine.
Former Baggies boss Hodgson had clearly been impressed with the partnership Lescott had formed with Vincent Kompany in City's title-winning campaign in 2011/12, with the pair contributing to the best defensive record in the division.
He found fewer opportunities coming his way in his final two seasons at the Etihad Stadium due to the signings of Matija Nastasic and Martin Demichelis.
In total, Lescott has made 538 career appearances, including 30 as a substitute, scoring 39 times.