Delight for Bruce as Heskey signs up

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The Independent Football

Birmingham City have finalised a £6.25m five-year deal to sign Emile Heskey from Liverpool.

Birmingham City have finalised a £6.25m 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 was finally completed yesterday morning, and the England striker will officially join the St Andrew's pay-roll on 1 July.

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

Bruce was delighted to have signed an international striker to bolster his 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," Bruce said. "He is still only 26 years old, has 40 England caps to his name and will be representing his country at Euro 2004. Hopefully, he will be the first of several high-profile signings that we will be making this summer."

Heskey, who flew out to New York yesterday for a short break before joining the England squad, said he was looking forward to getting back in the goals.

"I think Birmingham is a progressive and ambitious club and very much going in the right direction," he said. "But they are also building within a sensible framework without throwing money around and jeopardising the future of the club."

He added: "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 think we can create an effective partnership."