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Wednesday 04 September 2013

Former Villan Hitzlsperger calls it quits

The 31-year-old retires as German with fifth-most appearances in Barclays Premier League

  • Thomas Hitzlsperger was known as 'Der Hammer' to Aston Villa supporters

  • Hitzlsperger made the fifth-most appearances by a German in the Premier League

  • Hitzlsperger helped Germany reach the UEFA European championship final in 2008

  • The 31-year-old made a return to the English top-flight with West Ham in the 2010/11 season

  • The midfielder made seven Barclays Premier League appearances for Everton last term

Former Aston Villa and Everton midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has announced his retirement from professional football due to a series of injury problems.

"I won't be playing any more. I think it's enough"
Thomas Hitzlsperger

The 31-year-old, who returned to the Barclays Premier League with Everton last season, revealed in a newspaper Suddeutschen Zeitung that the strain of "many transfers and some injuries" left him with no choice other than to hang up his boots.

"I've been sure about it for a few days," he told the German daily. "I won't be playing any more. I think it's enough. I've noticed: I need something else."

Hitzlsperger first came to the English top flight in 2000 when he signed for Aston Villa from Bayern Munich as a 17-year-old and he spent five years at Villa Park, making 99 Barclays Premier League appearances for the West Midlands side.

He was known for his committed displays and a powerful left-foot shot which provided him with 10 Barclays Premier League goals, eight from outside the area, which  earned him the nickname "Der Hammer" among the Villa fans for whom he became a firm favourite, not least due to his habit of scoring against local rivals.

'Der Hammer'

Hitzlsperger scored Barclays Premier League goals against Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers and helped David O’Leary’s side achieve a top-six finish in the 2003/04 season when he managed the same number of assists, six, as Thierry Henry in Arsenal's "Invincibles" season.

After returning to the Bundesliga with Stuttgart and a spell with Serie A side Lazio, the German, who won 52 caps for his country, returned to the Barclays Premier League with West Ham United in 2010, where his season-long spell was hit by injuries and he was unable to help them avoid relegation into the championship.

Hitzlsperger returned to the top flight for one last time with Everton last season, taking his tally of Barclays Premier League appearances to 117 and him to fifth place in the ranking of German players to have plied their trade in the competition to date.

Barclays Premier League appearances by German nationals

Player Matches
Dietmar Hamann 268
Robert Huth 230
Jens Lehmann 148
Moritz Volz 125
Thomas Hitzlsperger 117
Steffen Freund 116
Michael Ballack 105
Uwe Rosler 103
Christian Ziege 92
Markus Babbel 67

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Key Points

  • Thomas Hitzlsperger announces retirement from football
  • The 31-year-old former Aston Villa and Everton player cites injuries as major cause for decision
  • Midfielder fifth on all-time list of Germans to have played in Barclays Premier League