Hübner: "I have my quality of life back"
Benni, you played your first friendly match with the U23s this week after a long break due to injury. How did it feel?
"Well, standing on the pitch certainly had a familiar ring to it. But such a game is perfect to be able to get back into the flow of things. It feels really good to be back at a competitive level and it is certainly a great feeling to get a game under your belt, even if it was just a friendly."
Was it a special game for you?
"Yes, because it was a match after the long period I was out injured that indicates I can make the next step forwards. It was just right for me. I also headed the ball a few times, though I have to admit that was the last thing I had the confidence to attempt. Everything else came relatively quickly."
During pre-season you suffered a severe concussion and were injured for several months. How were the first few weeks for you, during which nobody knew exactly what the problem was?
"I had already had a number of concussions and prepared myself for a break of about one or two weeks. After that time was up, they side it might take four weeks. Then it was eight weeks..."
"I received many words of encouragement"
As time went by, did you begin to fear for your career?
"At some point I realised that the most important thing was simply to get myself back to full health after the system had crashed, so to speak, no matter how long it might take. I received many words of encouragement from people who helped me through this period. They gave me courage, and I was able to draw strength after every check-up which showed that things had improved slightly. For that reason, I very rarely thought that I wouldn't recover."
Initially you were not allowed to read, watch TV or use your mobile phone. How was that?
"You have to find alternatives for yourself, do easy things, occupy yourself with other stuff. I was overcome with boredom at first, but you've got to distract yourself from that and get yourself into something resembling a daily routine."
Is everything now completely back to normal?
"I'm certainly not back to 100 percent, but a fixed routine, training sessions – all of that is doing me a lot of good, and I'm just happy to be back. It was without doubt the most difficult time of my career and it was especially difficult not knowing what the issue was and when I would be able to return. Now I have my quality of life back, which is just great, and you appreciate things that you used to take for granted a lot more."
"I have a new perspective on things"
Has this phase changed you?
"I've certainly got a new perspective on things and my priorities have changed. Health is the most important thing in life because you need that before you are able to achieve anything else. And for that, I am very grateful to my family and my friends. Of course, I already knew how important they are to me, but that becomes even clearer during such a time."
What was the support from the club like?
"The support I was given was enormous, and I'm really grateful for that. I'm also grateful that I was granted my private sphere away from the media so that I had enough time for myself to be able to recover. I was offered an incredible amount of help, especially from Alexander Rosen and our medical team. Nobody put pressure on me, I received only support and everybody demonstrated an incredible amount of understanding for the situation, which was anything but usual."
Did you watch TSG's games?
"Every single one, I didn't want to miss out on that. But it took some time before I could watch in the stadium. I needed peace and quiet and it was still difficult at that time to be constantly questioned about my condition and when I'd be making my comeback. There was a phase during which I had no answers to those questions, nor did I want to answer them. That's why I wanted to feel stronger again before I went back in the stadium, and I have of course been able to do so recently."
Thanks to the fans
Thanks to your strong performances, you all managed to achieve your major goal, namely, getting into the Champions League. Is it especially painful not knowing whether you will actually be able to participate in this competition and fulfil your dream?
"Even playing in the Champions League gets pushed further down your list of priorities and you just want to get well again. I was really pleased for the boys that they were able to get experience in the competition. Of course you want to be a part of it, that's a fact, and I still might have the chance to."
What are you looking forward to most of all?
"I really couldn't do anything sporty for months, which was very hard for me to take. That's why I'm looking forward to more weeks like the previous one, in which I can get back onto the pitch, play matches, and then hopefully get back into the team, both in the Bundesliga and for international fixtures. And, in doing so, to be able to draw a line under this period of my life."
The fans have been concerned for you both at a human and sporting level. What can the fans look forward to?
"Many thanks for that. Everybody can be pleased that I'll soon be able to pull on the colours and run out on the stadium turf once again. I can promise that, even though I can't specify a time right now. But I'm back training with the team, am ready to go, and feel better with each passing day. I'll give my all and work hard in order to play again as soon as possible. And I hope that I and TSG will continue to have as much success together as we have done in the last few years."