I want more and more! – Willi Orbán played his 150th Bundesliga match
The Hungarian national team center-back, who played his 150th Bundesliga game on Sunday, gave an interview for our newspaper about his debut against Bayern Munich, his favorite goal, his toughest opponents, and the recipe for success.
|Orbán Willi named his most difficult opponents (Photo: Imago Images)|
– What comes to mind when you think of August 27, 2011?
– That's when I made my Bundesliga debut – said Willi Orbán, the 29-year-old defender of RB Leipzig and the Hungarian national team, who played his 150th Bundesliga game in a 4-0 win over Augsburg on Sunday. – I was still playing football at Kaiserslautern when I was a substitute against Bayern Munich.
– How excited were you when they told you that you were going to play?
– I wasn't excited at all because Bayern led 3-0 by then. I was just focusing on enjoying every moment on the field and living my childhood dream coming true. As a little boy, I was just hoping to play in a fully packed stadium in the Bundesliga with my youth club, so I was more excited than nervous. Moreover, it is unusual for someone to introduce themselves against Franck Ribéry and Thomas Müller.
– Five years passed between your second and third topflight league games, during which time you signed for Leipzig. After all these years, was it worth the wait?
– In terms of my development, the years in the second division certainly did not hurt me, but I wanted to take a step up after a while. Kaiserslautern fought for promotion for years, but something was always missing. I felt I had to switch. I wanted to sign for a topflight club, but then Ralf Rangnick contacted me, outlined Leipzig's plans, and he convinced me to play in the second division for another year and be a part of this project. In the years I spent in the second division, I became a more complete footballer, I improved a lot, and when we were promoted with Leipzig, I was ready for the topflight in every way. On the other hand, it is also true that five years is a long time, maybe I could have had more matches, but it is unnecessary to dwell on this now.
– As a child, did you think you'd reach this number?
– Not at all! In fact, I remember when I went from the U19 team to the seniors at Kaiserslautern, there was our experienced Algerian player, Karim Matmur, in the locker room. He sat down next to me and said, "Willi, this is my last season in the Bundesliga, I have 100 games behind me.” At the time, I was just sitting there thinking that I wouldn't be able to get this far, but I felt disappointment in his voice. He said he could have had more. Now I understand what he was talking about. At that moment I was just hoping that one day maybe I would play 50 or 60 Bundesliga games, but now, after the 150th one, I want more and more. Sunday's game was a milestone and I hope I have a lot of big battles ahead of me.
– What's the next goal?
– The reality is maybe 250 Bundesliga appearances. But at the end of the day, I'm not thinking about the numbers, I just want to stay healthy and keep this level as long as possible. Once I have that, the rest will come itself. I feel good in Leipzig, I play for an ambitious club and although it will be good to look back at the statistics at the end of my career, it is more important that we finally win trophies. The gold medal is more important than the number of matches played because the latter shows the character and ability of the player.
– What does it take to reach 150 matches in the Bundesliga?
– One of the main requirements of modern football is the physique. Body, strength, speed: without these, it is impossible to stay at the highest level. You also have to be mentally strong because you have to compete in every training session, and every game, and you have to fight against the best. It is necessary to work on the weak points and constantly strive for learning and development.
– What is the most important lesson you have learned over the years?
– That the situation in football is changing incredibly quickly. In one game you perform perfectly, then you make a mistake in the next, and in just one snap, everything changes. Vice versa is also true: sometimes you suffer in a match most of the time, and then you score the winning goal, and everything gets beautiful. The other lesson is that you have to work hard because the only thing that leads to an experience that is unlike anything else is a joint celebration with the fans.
– Do you know how many goals you have scored so far in the topflight?
– Sixteen. But I only know it because I reviewed it quickly before the interview. It doesn't seem a lot, so I double-checked, but that's really how many I have.
– Do you have a favorite of them?
– Maybe the one I scored in our first topflight season against Leverkusen. It was a crazy game, and in the end, we won 3-2 with my goal. Thanks to the victory, we jumped to the top and led the Bundesliga table for the first time in the club's history.
– Regarding the 150 games, which three strikers have made you sweat the most against?
– Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland are for sure. The third one is... let's say, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang...
– Who were the three best footballers you played with in Leipzig?
– That's an even more difficult question... Maybe Timo Werner, Naby Keita, and Christopher Nkunku. The latter is having an amazing season.
– How will you look back on this season?
– The first half was probably the worst I've ever experienced in Leipzig, but if we win the German Cup next Saturday and keep our fourth place, together with the Europa League semifinals, this season could be the most successful.
Translated by Vanda Orosz