Nicknamed 'Der Hammer' for the ferocity of his left-foot shot, Thomas Hitzlsperger has provided versatile service to the Germany national team since he was first capped in 2004, sometimes operating at left-back as well as in his more familiar midfield role. He joined VfB Stuttgart from Aston Villa FC in 2005.
• Munich-born, he left FC Bayern München's youth set-up to spend the early years of his professional career in England with Villa, making his first-team debut against Liverpool FC in January 2001; went on to make 99 Premier League appearances for the Birmingham club, scoring eight goals.
• Returned to Germany in 2005 with Stuttgart and played a prominent role in the Swabians' shock 2006/07 Bundesliga triumph, hitting seven goals; appeared twice in debut UEFA Champions League campaign (2007/08).
• One of a new wave of young German players drafted into the national team by Jürgen Klinsmann after UEFA EURO 2004 but played only eleven minutes of the 2006 FIFA World Cup (in third-place play-off against Portugal).
• Made memorable UEFA European Championship debut – two late goals as substitute in a record 13-0 qualifying victory over San Marino – and appeared five times at UEFA EURO 2008, starting the quarter-final, semi-final and final.
• Appointed skipper of Stuttgart in 2008, he missed only two Bundesliga games in 2008/09 campaign; injured and out of favour in autumn 2009, losing captaincy to Matthieu Delpierre.
Did you know?
Hitzlsperger played five games on loan at English lower-division outfit Chesterfield FC during his time at Villa.
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