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Sounders sign former Bolton defender

Tyrone Mears has shown lots of promise, but also has an interesting past.

Chris Coulter/

The Seattle Sounders made their first acquisition of the offseason, signing former Bolton defender Tyrone Mears on Monday. Mears, 31, spent 14 seasons playing professionally in England, the last three of which were with the Bolton Wanderers. Although he has fetched transfer fees of more than $1 million on three occasions, his last professional appearance was back in September 2013.

"Tyrone is a player we had an opportunity to evaluate over the past summer when he trained with us in Seattle and we were very impressed with his pedigree," Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid said in a team release. "He's a fullback that is solid defensively, with the ability to posses the ball and to get forward in the attack. Tyrone is also a very good one-versus-one defender - a capability that is a key ingredient to success in our league - and we're excited about his future with our club."

Mears has an interesting past. He started out as a Manchester City youth player and even made a single senior team appearance before being transferred to the Championship's Preston North End. From there he moved to the Premier League's West Ham United on a transfer reportedly in the £1 million range. After only making a few appearances, he was loaned to Championship side Derby County , who eventually paid a similar fee to make the move permanent. That ended in controversy, though, when he effectively forced a loan to Olympique Marseilles where he only made four league appearances.

Around the same time, Mears also made his only international appearance, suiting up for Jamaica. But that turned out to be short-lived, as Mears found out that his father was not Jamaican, but rather from Sierra Leone, making him ineligible.

Despite the controversy, Mears moved back to the Premier League with Burnley for the 2009-10 season. He would make 82 appearances over two seasons, split between the Premie League and Championship. Mears' final transfer came to Bolton, where he was again purchased for more than the equivalent of $1 million. An injury limited him to just one EPL appearance in 2011-12, which he followed up with 26 Championship appearances the following year. His last professional appearance came on Sept. 17, 2013 in a 2-2 tie with Derby County.

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