DARREN Bent says he joined Aston Villa “for football reasons” not cash.
Former Sunderland and Villa striker Kevin Phillips has suggested Bent’s decision to walk out on the Black Cats “boils down to pure money”.
But Bent insisted tonight: “Everyone has got different opinions as to why I’ve come to Aston Villa Football Club.
“I’ve showed in the past, when I could have gone to West Ham for a lot more money but I chose Spurs for footballing reasons.
“I’ve done the same here. I had a good time at Sunderland but I believe that time’s over and I’m at Aston Villa now and I just can’t wait to get going.”
He added: “With Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, there’s a fantastic supply line. It’s just up to me to work on my finishing and try to put the chances away.
“I’m delighted to join Aston Villa. This is a big, big opportunity for me.
“I had some good times at Sunderland, but that’s all behind me now and I’m just looking forward to getting going. We have a tough, tough game now against Manchester City and if I can play, hopefully I can help to start getting some points on the board.”
Bent - who spent 18 months on Wearside - leaves a club sitting sixth in the Barclays Premier League for one in the bottom four, another reason for some to believe the switch was inspired by finances.
He added: “Sunderland are having a fantastic season and I had great times there but at the same time I believe Aston Villa’s position is false.
“This is a new challenge for me and as soon as I knew they were interested, I knew it was something I wanted to be part of.”
Houllier claimed that Bent, who turns 27 next month, is now entering his prime as a player.
“There are not many English players that have the pedigree and finishing class that Darren has shown over a number of years in the Premier League,” he said.
“In the Barclays Premier League I think only Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba have scored more Premier League goals.
“Darren is just 26 years old and is just entering the prime of his life as a striker, so he fits the bill of what we want to build here.”