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Steffen on 'The Hammer'

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Steffen Freund declares himself proud that young Germans like Aston Villa's Thomas Hitzlsperger are emerging in the English game.

The 20-year-old Hitzlsperger left Bayern Munich for Villa Park in August 2000 and is now making an impact in the Premiership having made 33 first team appearances.

The Munich-born midfielder has scored four goals this season and his powerful shooting has seen him dubbed 'The Hammer'.

Steffen has kept tabs on the progress of Hitzlsperger, along with Robert Huth and Moritz Volz, who are making strides at Chelsea and Aston Villa respectively. On Saturday he has the chance to see Hitzlsperger first hand when we travel to Villa, but is already well aware of the Hammer threat.

"I know that he played for the under-21s in Germany and was the skipper there," said Steffen. "He has a good future and everyone is positive about him in Germany.

"I've watched a few Villa games live on TV and he can be really proud to be playing so strongly, at a young age, in a foreign country.

"For the first time this year he is really part of the senior team, not every game, but more and more starting from the beginning and that is really nice for him.

"He has scored some fantastic goals and has a really good left foot. I am looking forward to seeing him on Saturday and it is nice to see Germans here - just a few though."

Steffen feels that his countrymen have no negative feelings about their young prospects seeking fame in an overseas league and says that their presence is generating more and more interest.

"They are proud and they are starting to think more about it. The reporters ask me now why players like Robert Huth, Moritz Volz and Thomas go to English teams to play there at the beginning of their careers.

"You have to be really brave to come at a young age, be strong straight away to try and get in the first team of a Premier League club.

"I think maybe it is harder than in Germany. It is not easy to get into a Premier League first team, but you can learn a lot of things here."

Steffen added that he feels the English system lends itself more to progressing young players due to the fact that youth players are given the opportunity to mix with and learn from the seniors.

"You get good pointers. Everybody sticks together here - the reserve, youth, and first team together on the same training ground. This does not happen in Germany and they are starting to change that now.

"I think it is a great foundation for young players. To stay in touch with the seniors and you can learn sometimes when you have a training session together. If one plays well in the youth team the manager might ask him to have a session with the first team.

"I think this is really helpful.

"I did it a different way, I did it the hard way from the youth system to the professionals in the old East Germany. I think this was not far away from the system here where the youngsters have to clean the boots of the professionals and look up to the top team.

"Then they know they have to work really hard to go there. I think this is a really important thing - to learn and have the will to succeed. The biggest move for a young player is from the youth team to the professionals.

"From maybe 100 players, possibly only two or three will make it through to play in the Premier League or Bundesliga.

"This is why I am so proud to have youngsters like Thomas, Robert and Moritz here. It is really hard, but I'm sure it is a good experience."

By Richard Hubbard