Der Ham­mer’s ti­tle win­ner

vs En­ergie Cot­tbus, Bun­desliga, 2007

FourFourTwo - - CONTENTS -

Stuttgart won the 2006-07 Bun­desliga af­ter vic­to­ries in their fi­nal eight games, but they needed a pearler from Thomas Hit­zlsperger to help seal the ti­tle on the last day.

Need­ing to se­cure at least a draw to stave off sec­ond-placed Schalke and clinch a first league crown in 15 years, Die Roten fell be­hind to an early Sergiu Radu goal at home to En­ergie Cot­tbus. Then Hit­zlsperger made his mark.

The mid­fielder hung back out­side the box for Pavel Pardo’s right-wing cor­ner, be­fore fir­ing a ridicu­lous vol­ley past goal­keeper Tomis­lav Pi­plica from 25 yards.

“We prac­tised it in train­ing,” Hit­zlsperger re­veals to FFT. “Most of the play­ers would be in the box, and I’d hide fur­ther back and pre­tend not to be part of it. Then, at the last sec­ond, I’d go closer to­wards the box.

“It was a great cor­ner – it didn’t have a lot of pace on it to be per­fectly hon­est, so there was enough time for some­one to close it down, but they didn’t. I smashed it al­most in the top cor­ner. It was good enough for the keeper not to save it – some­times they come off, some­times they don’t.” Nick­named ‘Der Ham­mer’, Hit­zlsperger be­came fa­mous for his long-range wal­lops in a ca­reer that also saw him star at As­ton Villa and for Ger­many. He’s in no doubt about the rea­son for that. “Prac­tice!” he chuck­les. “Ob­vi­ously you start with a nat­u­ral tal­ent, and I al­ways had a strong left foot. Even when I was lit­tle I could hit the ball re­ally hard. You keep do­ing it be­cause it is a strength you have. Peo­ple talk about it, so you try to show it off as of­ten as you can to sep­a­rate you from all of the other play­ers.” That day in Stuttgart, it helped to write his name in the club’s his­tory books, as Sami Khedira headed home the win­ner and the Bun­desliga ti­tle was theirs.

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