I’m a former Premier League and Germany star – now I run one of London’s most famous French restaurants

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THOMAS HITZLSPERGER has changed tracks since retiring from football in 2013.

The former German international made his name at Aston Villa and VFB Stuttgart in his playing days.

Youtube @WestHamThomas Hitzlsperger owns a French restaurant in London[/caption]

GettyHe spent four years at Aston Villa[/caption]

Getty Images – GettyThe midfielder was also a fan favourite at West Ham[/caption]

Hitzlsperger, 41, made over 100 Premier League appearances in his career, as well as earning 52 caps for Germany.

The midfielder turned out for clubs such as Lazio, Everton and West Ham.

Hammers fans fondly remember him despite only playing 13 games for the club in the 2010/11 season.

Since retiring, the German has worked in football as the CEO of Stuttgart but has also ventured into business outside of football.

Hitzlsperger has moved into the food industry and is the owner of one of the oldest French restaurants in London.

He started working with Soho venue L’Escargot after the pandemic after being approached by the management.

He told IronCast: “That started ten years ago, I went in and I loved it there.

“Sometimes, you go into restaurants or places in general and think there is something about this that I really enjoy.

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“So I kept going back and still loved it. I got to know the management and when Covid hit, people reached out to me and asked if I wanted to get involved with the restaurant.

“I had just left Stuttgart and I thought ‘why not’.

“I learned a lot at Stuttgart in my role as the CEO and other different roles and that was the next step up.

“In this industry, I love food, I love being in London, it was already a big brand so I was tempted to just do it to see how good I can be in this industry.

“It is really hard work, but I love it and really enjoy.

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“There are some West Ham fans that have been there and I love it when it is buzzing.

“I hate it when it is quiet and I am looking to avoid that as best as I can.”

L’Escargot is described as a “Soho institution” and won the Travellers Choice award in 2023.

It has been visited by celebrities such as broadcaster Rylan Clark and snooker star Stephen Hendry.

It was also a favourite of Princess Diana who was one of its most famous regulars.

Hammers school

Hitzlsperger has also done a course at Boston’s Havard Business School and was joined by another West Ham hero, Mark Noble.

He added: “Nobes [Mark Noble] and I went to Boston Harvard Business School, we didn’t know and only realised when I saw a list of people attending.

“We had four days together and did all those case studies.

“It was just inspirational, the group of people and the way they talk about former athletes and what they do after their career.

“This had a huge impact on me. I thought why not own parts of a company so then I am responsible and there are no excuses anymore.

“I just want to run a business where it is down to me whether it is successful.”

Hitzlsperger became one of the highest-profile footballers to come out as gay in 2014.

Since then, he has insisted that a lot has happened to help people as clubs take it more “seriously”.

He said: “In the last ten years so much has happened that often people say to me nothing has happened since I have come out.

“No other few players have come out, I think that is correct.

“But in terms of the fans and awareness, clubs take it so seriously now when they talk about diversity and inclusion.

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“That is down mainly to the fan clubs who have had a really huge voice.”

“For me it was an interesting journey, I felt it was the right to speak up and say something publicly.

“Between then and now I just feel more engaged and I just feel like I have a duty to speak up regularly and support people because I have been helped.

“Unfortunately there are not many players at the top level.”

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