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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Thomas Hitzlsperger has vowed to do all he can to ensure his stay at Everton extends beyond the summer after admitting he once feared his professional career was over.

Blues boss David Moyes revealed last week that the German had been offered the chance to remain at Goodison Park until the end of the season having impressed since his arrival at the Club on a free transfer in October.

The decision was an easy one for the midfielder, who just months ago was contemplating the prospect of a serious knee injury halting his playing days at the age of just 30.

Released by Wolfsburg in May last year following a solitary season in which injury restricted him to just six league appearances, Hitzlsperger is now thrilled his patient wait for a second chance paid off.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with evertontv, the Munich-born maestro said: "I'm delighted to be here until the end of the season and I've always said it since I've been here, I've really enjoyed my time playing amongst these players and playing for this Club.

"It has been hugely enjoyable, we've been successful and hopefully at the end of the season we're up there in the top four playing for the Champions League.
"When I was out in the summer I thought maybe I'd played my last game already. Now I'm back at a very, very good level in the Premier League, playing for a huge club and it's so enjoyable."
Coping with the prospect of walking away from the game was far from easy. But it's an eventuality Hitzlsperger knows every player is doomed to encounter at some point in their career.

The key to getting past it? Keeping focus.  

"I'm over it now and I don't want to look back really. It happens and I think most players go through it," he explained. "It came unexpectedly to be honest but when it did come it was something I knew I had to deal with.

"I tried to be positive and I was most of the time. Fortunately that period is over now, it's behind me and I'm just looking forward to the next few weeks and months."

What those coming weeks and months bring will clearly be crucial to whether Hitzlsperger's time at Goodison continues.

Currently the Blues are fifth in the Barclays Premier League and clinging to the vapour trail of those sides above them.

A 52-time German international, Hitzlsperger sampled a taste of Champions League football during a five-year spell with homeland club Stuttgart.

He now longs to appease his hunger for more and feels his current crop of teammates are suited to the challenge of tackling the continent's best.

"There's so many good footballers in this team and the work ethic is tremendous, so I think we're well equipped," he said. "But this league is quite tough because you have the usual three or four teams up there that have the financial power and make it very, very difficult.

"It would be a tremendous achievement if we get into the top four. I think we have it in us, we've proved that this season. It's only four months but it will be a long season for us and we've just got to maintain that level of performance we've shown."

Most importantly for now though, Hitzlsperger feels back to the peak of his fitness, his summer of mental suffering consigned to the past.

It's been a long road back, but the former Aston Villa and West Ham star is now thinking only of the future - and that lure of a protracted stay on Merseyside.

"I think now I'm fully fit, there's not any problems and I think it's gone well," he added.

"Looking back to where I came from, I was out injured for a long time so I couldn't really expect too much.

"But that's why since I've been here I've worked hard and the now the manager has said he's pleased with my performances.

"I can still improve obviously, as we all can, but I'm delighted I can stay here and improve over the next few months and help the team to progress.

"I need to play well, train hard, train well and put everything into it.

"I spoke to the manager a few weeks ago and he told me he's pleased with my efforts.

"I've just got to keep doing those things that I'm doing well and improve on those things he's asked me to."

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