Willi Orban is the defensive cornerstone around whom RB Leipzig’s unlikely title bid is built, but what else is there to know about the 24-year-old centre-back?
bundesliga.com digs deeper to bring you 10 things you might not have known about the emerging Bundesliga star…
1) In the blood
Having been on FCK's books since infancy, Orban's sporting trajectory is perhaps unsurprising. His father was a junior karate champion in his native Hungary, and Willi showed that same rambunctious attitude from the start. "As a small child, I broke everything at home. My mother enrolled me in football training programmes because of it!"
2) Red Devil born and bred
Orban joined local club 1. FC Kaiserslautern at the tender age of four, progressing through the ranks to win the Bundesliga South/Southwest youth league title in 2011. He made his first-team debut in a Mario Gomez-inspired 3-0 Bundesliga defeat to FC Bayern München that August at the age of 18 years, five months and 25 days. Kaiserslautern went down that season, but there was more to come from Orban.
Orban played the most minutes of any player in Leipzig’s successful promotion bid last season. The defensive stalwart was one of only two players to start every game, alongside Marcel Sabitzer. Orban’s powerful physique, two-footedness, reading of the game and sharp distribution helped the eastern upstarts concede a league-low 32 goals.
6) Scoring habit
Orban has proven his mettle at the other end, too. His headed goal for Leipzig in the 2-0 win over Hertha Berlin on Matchday 15 was his 10th senior professional goal - not bad for a centre-back who has only played five-and-half seasons, the first two of which saw less than 500 minutes of game time. Not that Orban is getting ahead of himself. “It’s a move we’ve worked on,” he said in his post-match interview. “The boys who were involved did brilliantly, and Emil Forsberg put a great ball in. I just had to get my head on it!”
Watch: Orban scored his second Bundesliga goal in Leipzig's 2-0 win against Hertha on Matchday 15 of the 2016/17 campaign:
7) Skipper material
He may only be a month on from his 24th birthday but Orban already exudes authority, and was elected as one of Leipzig's captains at the club's pre-season training camp in the summer. Dominik Kaiser is the official club captain, but with the midfielder having started only five league games thus far, Orban has worn the armband more often than not, just as he did so on 16 occasions for Kaiserslautern.
8) What competition?
With FIFA World Cup winners Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Benedikt Höwedes bolting down the central defensive positions for Germany, Orban might be tempted to play for one of his parents’ nations. However, he has never been one to shirk competition, welcoming the arrival of fellow centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos on loan from Bayer 04 Leverkusen on loan at the start of the season. “My biggest competitor is myself," he said at the time. “It’s my responsibility to be the best Willi Orban I can be.”
9) Remember the date
Born on 3 November, Orban shares a birthday with Bayern’s all-time record goalscorer and FIFA World Cup winner Gerd Müller - who plundered a record 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games - as well as Adi Dassler, who founded German sportswear giant Adidas in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, in 1947.
Watch: Here's all you need to know about the rise and rise of RB Leipzig: