For FC Ingolstadt 04, the 2015/16 Bundesliga season has been momentous and certainly one to remember. In their first ever Bundesliga season, the Schanzer secured survival with some three games to spare and formed one of the meanest defence's in the entire division.
At the heart of that defence, and the crux of the success, contains a certain Benjamin Hübner. The tough tackling, hard working defender known for wearing his heart on his sleeve has especially stood out and earned the plaudits as Ingolstadt eventually finished in 12th place.
Such was Hübner's success; he has subsequently been rewarded with a bumper move to Julian Nagelsmann's ambitious TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in the close season. Sheer testament to the defender's exploits the past campaign.
A remarkable rise
Hübner's career path is far from conventional or othodox, and the 26 year old defender has enjoyed a remarkable rise through the German football pyramid. Coming through the ranks of his hometown club, SV Wehen Wiesbaden, Hübner enjoyed his breakthrough year with Wehen in the 2008/09 season and went on to represent the side on a total of 110 occasions between the 3. Liga and 2. Bundesliga. The central defender spent two years with VfR Aalen, before making the switch in 2014 to the historic fortified Bavarian town and it has been in Ingolstadt where Hübner's career has flourished.
The Wiesbaden native immediately became a main-stay in the Schanzer defence, that was key as Ingolstadt were promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time in their short, then eleven year, history. Hübner's partnership with Marvin Matip earning particular plaudits, as only thirty two goals were shipped the entire campaign and experienced veterans including André Mijatovic and Ralph Gunesch were fazed out of the side, such was the duo's success.
Continued success at the highest level
For many a club and player over recent years, the step up to Germany's highest level has proved one too far. Clubs such as Greuther Fürth, Eintracht Braunschweig and SC Paderborn that have taken the 2. Bundesliga by storm have quickly been cast back down to earth and dumped back to the doldrums of the second tier. Yet for Hübner and Ingolstadt this couldn't have been further from the case, as the Schanzer defied the odds and Hübner once again shone, were others had fallen before him.
Once again the 26 year old was partnered with Marvin Matip, and the pair managed to out-do themselves as the Schanzer earned the joint fourth best defensive record in the entire division. A feat unheard of for a newly promoted side.
Hübner became synonymous with the never say die, industrious style that came to be known with Ingolstadt. This was summed up in December of last year when he had to be carried from the field after a bruising challenge with Hoffenheim's, Kevin Volland.
Stand out performance
The central defender's exploits didn't only come preventing goals and Hübner's stand-out performance in his debut Bundesliga season came against the Green-Whites, Werder Bremen, as his early headed goal set the Schanzer on their way to a vitally important 2-0 victory.
A Pascal Groß freekick wasn't dealt with by the Bremen defence, and after a goal mouth scramble Hübner was at hand to power the ball past a hapless Felix Wiedwald. However, his work wasn't completed there and the now Hoffenheim defender did an equally capable job in marshalling veteran Bundesliga marksman, Claudio Pizarro.
Yet this was only one in a number of stellar performances from the 26 year old, and Benjamin Hübner was definitely a key factor in FC Ingolstadt 04's success the passing campaign and will surely be an equally important part in the coming season with Hoffenheim.