Benjamin, can you still remember the first Bundesliga goal you scored for TSG?
"I scored my first competitive goal for Hoffenheim away to 1. FC Cologne in the DFB Cup. It was a special moment, even though we lost the match. I can't remember my first Bundesliga goal right now."
It was in the second half of the 2016/17 season against your former club FC Ingolstadt.
"That's right. That was a special feeling, even if I didn't remember that it was my first league goal for TSG (laughs). I'd had two successful years in Ingolstadt beforehand and, in hindsight, that was what took me to TSG."
With the benefit of hindsight, how do you assess your first season in Hoffenheim? You often weren't in the squad to begin with but then you made your first appearance – and your first start – against Ingolstadt on Matchday 6.
"In hindsight, it was one of my best-ever seasons. I was initially on the bench a lot but after making that league debut for TSG, I almost always played. Due to several defence absences, I was in the Bundesliga squad for the first time against Ingolstadt. Until the moment the line-up was pinned up in the changing rooms, I had no idea I was going to start. I knew immediately that I needed to make the most of that chance. My adrenaline levels were sky-high, but from that point I was an indispensable part of the team. We played extremely attractive football for the rest of that season and, on top of that, we made the concept of a back three acceptable again in the Bundesliga."
In total you've scored eight competitive goals for TSG to date – an exceptional tally for a central defender. Were you always so dangerous in front of goal?
"I've certainly improved in that respect. But I demand even more goals from myself, because I know it's possible to score more."
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