On this day: Aston Villa sign Thomas Hitzlsperger

Thirteen years ago today, Aston Villa sealed the signing of Thomas Hitzlsperger from Bayern Munich.

There was plenty for Aston Villa supporters to be excited in the summer of 2000. Having reached the previous season's FA Cup final, manager John Gregory was determined for his side to build upon that run.

He made his intentions known with three experienced international signings in the form of Luc Nilis, Alpay and David Ginola.

However, it was a little-known German signed on this very day in the same year that would have the biggest impact on the Villa faithful.

Thomas Hitzlsperger involved in a challenge with fellow German Steffen Freund.© Getty Images

Thomas Hitzlsperger had been on the books of his hometown club Bayern Munich since 1989, but now 18, it had become clear to the midfielder that he had virtually no chance of breaking into the senior side.

Hitzlsperger signed a two-year contract at Villa Park, but it was not until January 2001 in a 3-0 defeat to Liverpool that he would make his one and only appearance in a claret shirt that season.

A short loan stint at Chesterfield followed during the next campaign, before he was recalled by Graham Taylor, who had taken over from Gregory. He would make 12 appearances before the term was out as he started to adapt to the English game.

Thomas Hitzlsperger shoots for goal against Tottenham Hotspur.© Getty Images

The arrival of David O'Leary at the helm in 2003 coincided with Hitzlsperger becoming a regular fixture in the Villa starting lineup, and he rewarded the faith that was shown in him by scoring a handful of powerfully struck goals from distance, earning himself the nickname 'Der Hammer' in the process.

In 2005 and after 99 Premier League appearances (and eight goals), Hitzlsperger headed back to his native Germany on a free transfer to sign for Stuttgart, where he would win the Bundesliga title in 2007.

A spell with Lazio in 2010 was followed by a return to England with West Ham United, then on to Wolfsburg, before a third visit to these shores at Everton's Goodison Park. He was released by the Toffees earlier this summer at the age of 31 and has so far yet to find another club.

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