Hitzlsperger harangues O'Leary

The 23-year-old midfield player is returning to his native Germany in the summer after agreeing a two-year deal with Bundesliga front-runners VfB Stuttgart. But he told the Birmingham Evening Post that he would have remained at Villa Park if he had been given a greater chance of first-team football.

“I was flattered when I heard of Stuttgart's interest but had I felt it was realistic that I would have played more often, then I would have definitely had stayed at Villa,” Hitzlsperger said. “I’m not just saying that for the sake of it. The manager told me that he couldn't guarantee me first-team football and I said, 'I know that' and that you don’t get that anywhere.”

“But I wanted a fair chance. I feel I have always given everything and yet when the slightest thing went wrong it seemed to be me who paid the price - like the recent game against Everton when I thought it was unfair to drop me. I know I didn't play well but neither did other players yet it was me who found myself out of the side for two games. I wasn't asking for a guaranteed place. I was asking for a fair chance - and I don't think I got that.”

Although he appears a little misguided as to his footballing ability, Hitzlsperger is clearly focussed on next summer’s World Cup. “The most important side of things is the football side,” he said, “and the fact of the matter was that I was not playing enough games [to be noticed by Jürgen Klinsmann].”

Hitzlsperger has not ruled out a possible return to Villa Park in the future, however, and admits the club will retain a place in his heart. “Returning will always be an option if the club ever want me back. Being here five years shows how much the club means to me. I will always follow the club's results and I hope Villa get back to where they belong.”