The UEFA 2020 Euros represented RB Leipzig and Hungary defender Willi Orban's first taste of a major finals. - © imago images / VI Images
The UEFA 2020 Euros represented RB Leipzig and Hungary defender Willi Orban's first taste of a major finals. - © imago images / VI Images

Willi Orban: Who is the RB Leipzig and Hungary defender who played for Germany's U21s?


In another life, Willi Orban might have lined up alongside Germany's Mats Hummels at UEFA Euro 2020, rather than against him for Hungary. profiles the RB Leipzig defensive stalwart...

Willi Orban

Age: 30
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Centre-back
Country: Hungary (41 caps/five goals)

Orban was born in Germany to a Hungarian father and Polish mother, making him eligible for all three countries. He represented Germany up to U21 level, before declaring for Hungary and making his debut in a UEFA Nations League loss to Greece on 12 October 2018.

By that point, Orban was long established domestically. The 6'1" centre-back won the 2010/11 Bundesliga South/Southwest youth league title with boyhood club Kaiserslautern, whose senior team he helped reach the promotion/relegation play-offs in 2012/13. After making 77 appearances for the Red Devils, including a baptism of fire Bundesliga debut against Bayern Munich at the age of 18 years, five months and 25 days, the Hungarian made the switch to Leipzig.

Orban went head-to-head with Cristiano Ronaldo in Hungary's Euro 2020 Group F opener. - getty images

Orban played the most minutes of any player in Leipzig's historic promotion-winning season of 2015/16 - his debut campaign at the club. He captained Leipzig the following year as the Eastern upstarts established themselves as a veritable Bundesliga force, finishing second behind Bayern with the third best defensive record in the division. Die Roten Bullen have played in Europe every season since, with Orban now four shy of a milestone 200th appearance for the club.

The 23-time Hungary international ranked fifth Bundesliga-wide for successful passes from open play (91.3 percent) and third for aerial challenges won (136) in 2020/21, as runners-up Leipzig shipped a league-low 32 goals and kept a division-leading 15 clean sheets. Four league goals and two assists, meanwhile, marked a personal-best single-season return at the other end.

With 21 goals all told, he is the most prolific defender in Leipzig history.

Plays a bit like: Mats Hummels

Orban's water-tight tendencies coupled with his ability to link defence and midfield and put the frighteners up opposition centre-backs is reminiscent of Hummels. The Leipzig No.4 also has natural leadership in common with the Borussia Dortmund general.

Did you know?

Orban's father was a karate master, but it's his mother, Sandra, who he credits with channelling his inner athleticism.

"When I was a kid at home, I used to fire the football at everything," the Leipzig defender recalled. "A few flower vases and bottles, nothing wild, but it was enough for Mum to say: 'The boy has too much energy, we're better off letting him join a football club'. She did everything right."

Watch: Fast forward to 00:12 secs to see what Willi Orban brings to the table from set-pieces

What they're saying

"Willi has played a major role in our success over the years. He leads the way on the pitch with good performances and is also an important part of our team in the dressing room. Willi is a symbol of RB Leipzig and is an important identification figure for our fans." - former Leipzig sporting director Markus Krösche

"Willi and I playing together, it's a big advantage to the national team as well, especially a goalkeeper and centre-back connection is very important. If you have that throughout every week, and you know the player who is playing in front of you, that's a big help for you. So I think we benefited a lot from that relationship. He's a fantastic defender and a real leader." - Leipzig and Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi

"He knows what information to pass on and what to filter out for the good of the team. With his dedication to the job, he's a real role model for his teammates." - former Leipzig head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl