THOMAS Hitzlsperger is determined to prolong his Everton career beyond the summer after admitting he once feared he had no future in the game.
The German midfielder signed a new deal to remain with the Blues until the end of the season having impressed since his arrival for a free transfer on a short-term deal in October.
Hitzlsperger, 30, is approaching full fitness after a serious knee injury had seen him released by Wolfsburg in May last year, and he is thrilled at how his Goodison switch has paid off to date.
He 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.
“I think now I’m fully fit, there’s not any problems and I think it’s gone well. 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 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.”
The former Aston Villa and West Ham player is convinced Everton can make Champions League football next term a reality.
“There’s so many good footballers in this team and the work ethic is tremendous, so I think we’re well equipped,” he added. “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.”