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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