My Favourite Villan: Oliver Phelps on Thomas Hitzlsperger
There have been a few favourite players over the years I've been going to Villa Park, but the one who really stands out for me was Der Hammer - otherwise known as Thomas Hitzlsperger.
A good servant for the club, Hitzlsperger scored the winner when I went to my first away game, against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium in November 2004.
It was a wonder strike on the full volley from outside the box, with less than a couple of minutes remaining.
And, better still, was into the goal in front of the travelling fans.
We all erupted when the ball hit the net, and you could see the Bolton players heads drop as Villa's players and supporters celebrated a dramatic 2-1 win.
Who could fail to be enchanted by a magical moment like that?
To be fair, it surprised me when I found out that during his time at Villa, between 2000 and 2005, Thomas scored only a dozen goals.
But never mind the actual number. Most of them were memorable, spectacular ones from long distance.
No wonder Villa supporters used to yell "Shoooooot!" every time he was in possession.
He gave some exciting performances as attacking central midfielder and that was something we missed until James Milner played on the inside.
To be honest I don't think we have ever quite replaced the danger Hitzlsperger posed from shooting with such power from outside the penalty area.
His goals in the derbies were ones to remember, too.
The goal straight after half-time against Birmingham City in 2004 should have been enough to secure the victory, putting us two-up after Darius Vassell had scored in the first half.
But the less said about the rest of that match, the better.
However his last-minute winner against West Bromwich Albion in 2002 was the type of goal you can relive in your mind time and time again and not get bored by it.
That was a real stunner, and one which secured a 2-1 win just when the Baggies thought they had earned a point.
I actually bumped into Thomas on a night out in Birmingham and he was a top guy.
He was more than happy to speak about how the season was going for him and what living in the area was like for him.
I was surprised, though, that considering he's German, when he spoke in English he had a Brummie twang!
When he left the club for Stuttgart in a bid to make Jurgen Klinsmann's team for the 2006 World Cup finals I don¹t think any fan would have held it against him.
And when Stuttgart won the Bundesliga - with Hitzlsperger scoring a crucial goal in the last game of the season - he was well vindicated in returning to Germany.
Snap up match tickets for Man City clash.
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