One could say that “Der Hammer” Thomas Hitzlsperger was always a perfect match for West Ham United and a fan favourite he was during his time in East London, but it would all come to a sad and premature end.
However, how did one of Germany’s greatest end up at Upton Park? Why did his time in East London end in sad circumstances? And where is he now?
The technically gifted midfielder began his career as a teenager with Bayern Munich, but he was soon picked up by Aston Villa on a free transfer to The Premier League.
The young midfielder soon graduated into the first-team under John Gregory and impressed earning rave reviews on loan at Chesterfield in The Championship.
It would take a change of manager at Villa Park for the German to graduate fully to the first-team, before moving back to The Bundesliga with VfB Stuttgart, it was there where he would enjoy his finest spell.
The midfielder was an integral part of Stuttgart’s incredible 2006/2007 Bundesliga Title winning campaign, carrying over the nickname he earned at Villa “De Hammer” due to his powerful left foot.
However, after being stripped of his Captaincy by new Manager Markus Babbel, he moved onto Lazio in The Serie A.
Having been released from the Italian side in summer 2010, the new man in E13, Avram Grant, signed him on a three-year deal and he would bed in well to his new surroundings at Upton Park.
The central midfielder was poised to make his Competitive Hammers debut against former club Aston Villa at Villa Park, but injury struck, a severe thigh knock whilst with Germany that kept him out until the following February.
By the time that he made his debut in Claret & Blue, we were in the grips of a Relegation battle, with Hitzlsperger set to be the shining light that could save us.
His presence would be felt instantly, as he netted a trademark “Hammer” against Burnley on his debut in The FA Cup Fifth Round.
In total, we would win his first three games under Avram Grant, he also scored in typical style in the third, a 3-0 home victory over Stoke City.
However, the skilful German could not save us and after a run of seven defeats in nine games following his Hammers berth, we were sourly Relegated to The Championship.
Due to the terms of his contract, the midfielder left at the end of that ill-fated campaign and signed a contract with Wolfsburg just months later.
A third return to The Premier League would follow for “Der Hammer” in October 2013, by which time we were also back where we belonged in The Top-Flight.
Merseyside would prove to be his final Footballing destination where he made a limited number of Premier League appearances before retiring from Football, citing injury as the main reason.
He finished a converted Career having made over 50 appearances for Germany and having won Trophies across Europe but many would claim that something totally non-Football related was his biggest achievement.
Following his retirement, Hitzlsperger came out as gay, thus becoming the most high-profile Footballer in history to do so, he was lauded by many but disgustingly abused by others, displaying the very reason why some Footballers never reveal such secrets.
Nevertheless, Hammers will remember the playmaker as one of the most gifted to have donned Claret & Blue in the modern era, but perhaps a star that just made the move to East London at the wrong time.