Derby-bound Darren Bent sends message to Aston Villa and their fans following release

The 31-year-old striker scored 25 goals in 72 appearances during his four-and-a-half-year spell at Villa Park.

Darren Bent’s Aston Villa career might not have gone as planned but the striker still took the time to send a message to the club and fans following confirmation of his release.

Writing on his Instagram page, the former England international, who has now re-signed for Derby County on a permanent deal following last season’s productive loan spell, said:

Want to say thanks to Aston villa football club for allowing me to play for such a great club. Have had fantastic times playing for this great club. Thank you to there fans who have stuck by me through hard times. It has been a pleasure to play for you.

Thank you

Signed from Sunderland in the winter of 2011 for a club record 18 million fee, Bent scored nine times over the rest of the 2010-11 campaign to help steer Gerard Houllier’s Villa clear of relegation, but things would go downhill from there.

The ex-Tottenham Hotspur forward managed just 16 goals in 48 total appearances over the next two terms due to form and fitness issues and, after falling out of favour with the since-departed Paul Lambert, spent the 2013-14 campaign on loan at Fulham.

He was handed a second chance to impress ahead of last season with Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak still recovering from long-term injuries but made just seven goalless league cameos and one cup start for a total of 168 minutes over the first few months of the campaign.

However, after December's month-long stint at Brighton & Hove Albion, the veteran front man joined Derby for the second half of last term and managed to net 12 times in 17 games during the Championship club’s botched promotion bid.

With Tim Sherwood, who worked with Bent for a brief period at Spurs, since replacing Lambert as Villa manager, it had been mooted ahead of his deal expiring that the striker could still have a future with the claret and blues, but he will instead head back to the iPro Stadium as one of new boss Paul Clement’s first signings.

His Villa spell has to be deemed a disappointment considering the expectations upon his arrival but, having almost single-handedly kept the club up in his first six months in the Midlands, it would be wrong to suggest that he failed to make an impact.

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