Thomas Hitzlsperger feels VfB Stuttgart owe their fans a win after admitting it was "painful to watch" his side's opening three Group E losses from the stands.
Thomas Hitzlsperger believes VfB Stuttgart owe their fans a victory following four defeats in as many Group E outings, as the German side welcome Rangers FC.
The midfielder made his UEFA Champions League debut in the 4-2 loss at Olympique Lyonnais on Matchday 4 which condemned Stuttgart to last place in the section and ended their European ambitions. Yet after a recent upturn in domestic form, Hitzlsperger is determined that the German champions go out with a bang. "The Champions League is the highest level in club football," said the 25-year-old, who has scored twice in his last three outings for club and country. "The best players in the world are all involved in the competition and we want to show that we can win against quality sides like Rangers. We owe this to our supporters."
Hitzlsperger is a key player for Stuttgart. It is no coincidence that since he returned after a month and a half out with a broken toe on 27 October, the Swabian team have won four successive matches in the Bundesliga and one in the German Cup to revive their domestic campaign. Their European dream is impossible to salvage, however, and Hitzlsperger admits it was extremely frustrating to sit out those opening three losses. "It was painful to watch from the stands," he said. "Now I am looking forward to more. We are at home so I am confident we can get a victory."
Hitzlsperger is well-versed with the physical demands of the British game, having spent five years with Aston Villa FC from the age of 18. It could so easily have been Rangers, as they and arch-rivals Celtic FC had also pursued the youngster's signature in 2000, but it was Villa that won the race. He picked up a distinct lilt from his Birmingham days and although he chose not to exhibit that in his Stuttgart news conference on Monday, he could yet display another facet honed during his time in England: a blistering left-footed shot that earned him the nickname 'The Hammer'.