ASTON VILLA SIGN TAR HEEL DEFENDER
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RICH FIDLER - Sunday, July 29, 2007
University of North Carolina sophomore defender Eric Lichaj has left school and signed with English Premier League participants Aston Villa.

The 6' 0" standout defender from Downers Grove, Illinois, has joined the West Midlands club following impressive stints with the United States U17 and U20 international teams.

"Eric has indeed joined Aston Villa," Villa press officer Claire Huggins confirmed to YA. "He's signed a professional contract, but will initially train with the Academy squad."

Lichaj, currently out of action with a broken foot, becomes Aston Villa's first American signing since the club was bought by Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner.

"He signed a two year deal with options," Lichaj's agent Steve Kelly told YA. "He will initially be playing with reserves, but his goal is to some day play for the first team.

"Remember, he is only 18 years old."

"He was injured before he signed, but they saw his talent before that. He won't be playing until at least September."
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