Thomas Hitzlsperger arrived at Aston Villa as an unknown quantity but left as a fan favourite after five great years in claret and blue.
A cannon of a left foot saw the Villa Park faithful dub him ‘Der Hammer’ as he rifled in 12 goals for the club – many of which were spectacular.
As the former Germany international celebrates his 38th birthday on Sunday, we take a look back at five of his biggest hits in a Villa shirt.
20th April 2002, vs Leicester City
On his eighth Premier League start for the club, Hitzlsperger found the net for the first time against the Foxes at Filbert Street.
Looking up for options and seeing none, the German barged his way between two blue shirts before making his way to the edge of the penalty area.
And while his left foot would become his trademark, the midfielder used his right boot to send a fierce low drive past Ian Walker and into the corner of the net.
30th November 2002, vs Arsenal
Defending champions Arsenal were flying high as they brushed Villa aside 3-1 at Highbury.
But they did suffer a scare in the second half when a moment of magic from Hitzlsperger made it 2-1 in the 64th minute.
Inexplicably given the space to shoot on the edge of the box, he unleashed a rocket that flew past Gunners ‘keeper Rami Shaaban and into the far corner.
22nd February 2004, vs Birmingham City
The Hitzlsperger goal that a lot of Villa fans will cherish forever is his stunning Second City Derby strike 16 years ago.
As the ball bobbled out of the Birmingham box, the marauding midfielder met it with a first-time half-volley that arrowed past Maik Taylor.
“That was a dream moment,” he told Planet Football in 2017. “I know there was always discussion among the fans that foreign players don’t understand what it means to play in the derby, but I would say that I did know what it means to the people and what it means to most of the players.”
14th March 2004, vs Wolves
A month after his stunner against the Blues, Hitzlsperger produced the goods against another Midlands rivals.
Just seven minutes in, he set Villa on their way to a 4-0 win at Molineux with a rasping effort.
Having evaded one defender on the edge of the box, he faced an impossible angle but still managed to pick out the far corner with a dipping drive.
2nd December 2005, vs Portsmouth
The popular midfielder may have saved his best till last with his last goal in an Aston Villa shirt.
As well as being the winner in a 2-1 victory, the strike left both sets of fans applauding.
Hitzlsperger teed up a bouncing ball from Juan Pablo Angel and sent a thunderous left-foot volley flying past a stationary Portsmouth ‘keeper.