The 28-year-old midfielder joins the Barclays Premier League club for an undisclosed fee on an initial six-month deal, which could potentially see him stay until the summer of 2014.

Wandsworth-born Sidwell said: "I'm delighted my move to Fulham has been finalised, and I'm looking forward to training with the squad and helping the club make steady progress up the table in the second half of the season."

Sidwell, who had also interested Wolverhampton Wanderers before undergoing a medical with West Ham United, joined Villa from Chelsea in 2008 after initially making an impact in the top flight with Reading.

He continued on Fulham's official website: "I'd also like to thank (chief executive) Jez Moxey, and (manager) Mick McCarthy in particular, at Wolves for being so understanding in my desire to return to London and to play for Fulham."

Fulham manager Mark Hughes wants Sidwell to rejuvenate his career at Craven Cottage and bring drive to the midfield in tandem with captain Danny Murphy.

Hughes also revealed 33-year-old Murphy has been offered a new one-year contract and insisted there was no way Damien Duff, linked with a possible move to former club Blackburn Rovers, would be allowed to leave the club in the January transfer window.

But it is the capture of Sidwell, 28, who has played only four matches for Villa this season, which appears to have set Hughes' bid for January reinforcements in motion.

good reputation

The Welshman explained: "He is a player whose career I have followed for a while now, and there was a deal in place to bring him in prior to when I arrived.

"At that time I just didn't think it was the moment to make it happen because I was new to the club.

"But he has been in my thoughts ever since, and when the opportunity to sign him in the January transfer window presented itself we moved quickly knowing there was a possibility he might go somewhere else.

"His intention was that he always wanted to come to Fulham - this was his first choice and we are delighted to have him on board.

"He is a young man who wants to get his career back on track and start playing football again. He has a good reputation in the game and is well admired.

"On the pitch he can get from box to box, he works tirelessly, is good on the ball and can also get you a goal. He wants to be part of what we are doing here - and because of that he will do well for us."

www.fulhamfc.co.uk