The six most memorable stories in 2020/21
André Hahn climbs the charts, Florian Niederlechner completes the full Bundesliga 18 and Tim Civeja can't believe his ears. The 2020/21 season was full of memorable moments. We bring you six stories from last season, from a historic start, to late goals and a perfect farewell.
It was an unfamiliar sight for German football fans on the night of 27 September 2020. After beating Union Berlin 3-1, FCA went on to defeat Dortmund 2-0 in front of 6,000 fans and subsequently spent the night at the top of the Bundesliga with six points. "There were 6,000 people in the stadium, but it felt like a full house," said centre-back and goalscorer that day Felix Uduokhai, thanking the FCA faithful for their vociferous support despite the small numbers. One day later, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim beat Bayern 4-1 and overtook the Fuggerstädters to go top. Nevertheless, it was an historic start to the season for FCA, who had never before begun a Bundesliga campaign with two wins.
After two below average seasons for André Hahn, with a total of just five Bundesliga goals, the German forward pulled off quite a revival in 2020/21. With eight goals, the 30-year-old was the top scoring FCA player of the season. "It’s my fight, my passion and my love for the game that define me as a player," said Hahn, despite his impressive goal tally. "Even when things aren’t going my way, I can always run and fight." Last season, things were going his way, however. Hahn climbed several places in the all-time leading Bundesliga goalscorer charts at FCA, overtaking Tobias Werner (24 goals) and now sits in second place with 25 goals behind Alfred Finnbogason (35).
During the season before last (2019/20), FCA scored three goals in the opening minute of games. In 2020/21, the Fuggerstädters did not celebrate any goals in the opening 60 seconds, but Hahn & Co. made up for it with their fair share of late strikes. 13 of the team’s 36 goals last season were scored in the final 15 minutes of games. "Our team spirit is very good and we always fight until the end," explained captain Jeffrey Gouweleeuw. "It’s no coincidence that we score so late in the game." The players showed particularly good character in the game away to Borussia Mönchengladbach (1-1) and at home to FC Schalke 04 (2-2), where Daniel Caligiuri and Marco Richter respectively equalised with just seconds remaining and with FCA down to ten men on both occasions.
After the final match of the season, Florian Niederlechner was able to put a tick next to Bayern München’s name. The 30-year-old scored FCA’s second in a 5-2 defeat in Munich, and was thereby able to complete a special list: Niederlechner has now scored at least one goal against all 18 Bundesliga teams (2020/21 edition). "That’s a nice achievement and I’m obviously pleased for myself," said Niederlechner. "I don’t think many players have achieved this." FC Augsburg are included on this list as well, as Niederlechner scored twice againt the Fuggerstädters in his SC Freiburg days. His favourite opponent is Arminia Bielefeld, against whom Niederlechner has scored six goals in five competitive encounters. Two new teams will join the Bundesliga next season in Bochum and Fürth, both already crossed off Niederlechner’s list.
Unlike Niederlechner, Rani Khedira was not exactly known for his goalscoring in his time at FCA. In 119 Bundesliga appearances for the Fuggerstädters, the defender found the back of the opposition net six times. By far the most important of these came in his very last game for FCA. On the penultimate matchday of the season, the 27-year-old opened the scoring against Werder Bremen, a game FCA went on to win 2-0, securing their Bundesliga status for next season. "I’m just the go-to guy for those special relegation battle goals," said Khedira, smirking, after a more than two-year wait for a goal. Khedira could surely not have picked a better scenario in which to score his final goal for FCA before moving to Union Berlin.
The reverse fixture against Werder Bremen (2-0 defeat away) and the final game of the season in Munich (5-2 defeat) were much less pleasing for FCA. For two players, however, these games will live long in the memory, for positive reasons. In Bremen, 19-year-old Tim Civeja made his Bundesliga debut. On Matchday 34 in Munich, 20-year-old Lukas Petkov joined him on the list of debutants in 2020/21. With this, a further two homegrown talents after Raphael Framberger and Marco Richter took their first steps in the world of professional football. Civeja was initially somewhat irritated when he learned about his imminent introduction from the bench. "I suddenly heard my name from the bench," he said after the game: "I couldn’t believe it at first and I actually went and asked to double check." After his debut, Civeja made another two Bundesliga appearances over the season.