This week former Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger retired from football at the age of 31.
Thomas joined Villa in August 2000 at the age of 19 on a free transfer from Bayern Munich. He had previously had a trial at Celtic FC but opted to join the Villa Park outfit. He made his debut in January 2001 in a 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool.
During the 2001-02 season, Hitzlsperger spent a short time on loan to Chesterfield before being recalled to Villa due to an injury crisis.
The following season saw the arrival of manager Graham Taylor and Thomas moved into the first team at Villa Park.
David O’Leary arrived at Aston Villa the following season and Hitzlsperger played a significant role in helping the club to a sixth place finish in O’Leary’s first season.
The German went on to play one hundred games for Villa, scoring thirteen goals. He became a fan favourite at Villa Park, nicknamed ‘Der Hammer’ after his knack of scoring absolute screamers from long range.
He left the club in the summer of 2005 on a free transfer to VfB Stuttgart, stating that he wanted to play in Germany to enhance his chances of appearing for his national side. This proved to be a wise decision as he went on to make over fifty appearances for Germany between 2004 and 2010. His time with Stuttgart was largely successful, winning a Bundesliga title in his first season and going on to be named club captain in 2008.
In January 2010 Hitz signed a six month contract with Serie A side Lazio after being deposed as club captain of Stuttgart by their new manager.
After his six month stint in Italy he signed a three year deal with Premier League side West Ham. However, due to injury, he didn’t make his first appearance until February 2011. At the end of the season West Ham were relegated from the English top flight and Hitzlsperger’s contract was terminated.
He then signed another three year deal at VfL Wolfsberg but injury led to only six appearances for the club and, once again, his contract was terminated.
Hitzlsperger’s final club was Everton, a team he initially joined on a short term deal in October 2012 after a trial with the club. In January 2013 he signed a contract extension that meant his deal continued until the end of the season, when he was then released by Everton.
Earlier this week he announced his retirement after failing to find a new club. Injuries blighted the latter half of his career and its a shame he’s had to retire at a relatively young age.
I’m sure all Villa fans would wish him all the best for the future and we will always remember him for his outstanding goals against the likes of Blues, Wolves, Chelsea and Bolton. During his time at the club Hitzlsperger was one of my favourite players and he was the first player I was truly disappointed to see leave the club. Good luck in the future, Der Hammer! “SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!”
[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXEt6ddSFrs[/youtube]