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Birmingham have clinched a £6.25million five-year deal to sign Emile Heskey from Liverpool.

The move had been mooted for several days but the paperwork of what is effectively a pre-contract deal has finally been completed and the England striker will officially join the St Andrews pay-roll on July 1.

Heskey is the first new player to be brought in as manager Steve Bruce prepares for next season, although released Leicester midfielder Muzzy Izzet is another expected to sign for Blues.

Bruce was delighted to have signed an international striker to bolster the forward line alongside Mikael Forssell, who has agreed to extend his loan spell from Chelsea for another season.

"This is an absolutely fantastic signing for the club," he told the club's website, www.bcfc.com.

"He is still only 26 years old, has 40 England caps to his name and will be representing his country at Euro 2004.

"To pull off a signing like this is quite remarkable and I am really excited to add Emile to the squad for next season.

"Hopefully, he will be the first of several high-profile signings that we will be making this summer."

Heskey said he was looking forward to getting back among the goals.

"I think Birmingham is a progressive and ambitious club and very much going in the right direction," he told the club's website, www.bcfc.com.

"But they are also building within a sensible framework without throwing money around and jeopardising the future of the club.

"I am keen to play as an out-and-out striker, which I haven't done since my second season at Liverpool, and Steve has made it clear that is the role that he sees for me.

"I am also looking forward to linking up with Mikael Forssell. I have been very impressed with what I have seen of him and I think we can create an effective partnership."

The move has been met with delight throughout the club.

Blues striker Clinton Morrison believes the new signing is a "tremendous talent" capable of helping the club reach the Premiership's top six.

"Emile is a big man, he can lead the line, that's the job he does well and that's why he plays for England. He's a tremendous talent and he will do very well for Birmingham," said the Republic of Ireland striker.

And Birmingham chairman David Gold backed Bruce to get the very best out of a player who is often criticised for failing to score enough goals or to use his powerfully-built frame to good attacking effect.

"What's important here is that Steve Bruce is the man who will bring out the very best in Emile," Gold said.

"When you play him in a bit-part role, or out on the left, and not as an out-and-out-striker, you're bringing problems on yourself.

"I'm sure Emile will be thrilled to be at Birmingham City Football Club, with Steve Bruce, playing the role that he really wants to play."

Gold also stressed that the signing was a statement of intent by City, who have until recent seasons been a sleeping giant with precious few honours to their name.

"I think we are letting the rest of the Premiership know that we mean business. It's very exciting times for Birmingham City Football Club," he told Sky Sports News.

"I'm absolutely thrilled, I'm beside myself. I've been running around and I'm only just getting my breath back actually - it's a fantastic signing."

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