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Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Saturday, 5 June 2010 18:18 UK

West Ham sign German midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger

Thomas Hitzlsperger
Hitzlsperger missed out on a World Cup squad place with Germany

German midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has become new West Ham manager Avram Grant's first recruit after signing a three-year deal with the Hammers.

The 28-year-old joins on a free transfer after his contract expired at Lazio, where he played only five times after moving from Stuttgart in January.

"Thomas is a top-quality player who I know the fans will love," said West Ham chairman David Sullivan.

Hitzlsperger had five years in England with Aston Villa from 2000 to 2005.

He had joined the Villans, then managed by John Gregory, as an 18-year-old from Bayern Munich.

It was at Villa Park where Hitzlsperger, capped 51 times for his country, earned the nickname 'The Hammer', owing to his rasping long-range efforts.


But despite establishing himself as a fans' favourite, he struggled for first-team football during boss David O'Leary's reign, and in August 2005 departed on a Bosman free transfer to Stuttgart, where he won the Bundesliga in the 2006-07 season and scored 20 goals in 125 appearances.

After he was stripped of the team's captaincy by manager Marcus Babbel at the end of 2009, Hitzlsperger left for his, ultimately, fruitless spell with Rome side Lazio.

And his miserable season was completed when he was omitted from his country's squad for the World Cup finals despite playing in all but one of the Germans' qualifiers.

Gold, meanwhile, has promised more arrivals at Upton Park during the summer.

"We are going to sign a mixture of exciting young talent as well as the very best senior pros who can add real strength to the squad like Thomas," he said.

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see also
Grant confirmed as West Ham boss
03 Jun 10 |  West Ham
Zola sacked as West Ham manager
11 May 10 |  West Ham
Stuttgart seal Hitzlsperger deal
13 Apr 05 |  Aston Villa
Hamburg eye Villa's Hitzlsperger
12 Oct 04 |  Aston Villa
Hitzlsperger stays on
21 Nov 01 |  Chesterfield

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