10 years ago today, RB Leipzig took their first step towards Bundesliga football! On 2nd May 2010, Die Roten Bullen secured the first promotion in their club history without playing a match themselves. Second-placed Budissa Bautzen dropped points, confirming RBL as Oberliga champions, ultimately by a comfortable 22-point margin. Then-captain and former Bundesliga player Ingo Hertzsch (currently CSR/football school team leader at RBL) looks back at a turbulent maiden campaign and the merry title celebrations.
Early defeat provides motivation
"The first time I came to Markranstädt for training, everything was very different to what I was used to. The balls were all different brands and weren't pumped up properly. We were wearing training gear from Red Bull Salzburg's U17s and U19s. If you arrived a little late, you ended up with shorts that were too tight. It was a bit of a frenzy," Ingo remembers.
The team overcame the early growing pains though and met the high expections. A 1-1 in their opening match against Carl Zeiss Jena II was followed up with three wins. The first defeat came on matchday 5, however - a 2-1 loss to Budissa Bautzen. "That gave us all a push as a team. We were more determined than ever," says Hertzsch. Tino Vogel's side went on to remain unbeaten until the final matchday, including a 3-0 win over Lok Leipzig in front of 11,000 spectators. "That was something very special at the time, a real highlight."
A special team trip
The team back then was made up of both professional players such as Ingo Hertzsch, Thomas Kläsener and Sven Neuhaus, and amateurs. There was no divide between the two groups though. "We were a close-knit bunch. The lads showed us around Leipzig and made it very easy for us to settle in."
A special team trip did bring the difference between the pros and the amateurs to the fore though: "During the winter break, we travelled to Salzburg with the team bus. We professional players were very much used to it, but the others were really excited. They were like kids on Christmas morning getting to travel in it, you couldn't help but chuckle."
Promoted on a day off
A defeat for second-placed Bautzen five matchdays before the end of the season spelt the end of their title hopes, confirming RBL as champions from the comfort of their own sofas - quite literally.
"I was sat on the sofa following it on teletext. We beat Halle 2-0 the next day and obviously had a big party afterwards. The coach only let us celebrate until midnight because we had a midweek game on the Wednesday, and we more or less followed his instructions. We ended up winning the game, so it wasn't an issue."
Title party with the fans
There was to be no title hangover, as three straight wins followed. Leipzig's final tally was 80 points from 30 games, with an average attendance of 2,000 at the Stadion am Bad in Markranstädt. The players and fans held their title party there after the final home game of the season.
"We set up a beer truck with the fans and celebrated together. We all signed the trophy too, even though we had to give it back - the local FA no doubt appreciated that. There was a special atmosphere and it was no doubt an amazing experience for the fans being so close to the team," says Hertzsch. The traditional beer showers were not forgotten about either. "We got the coach of course, but you had to be quick if you didn't want to get one yourself."
Ten years on from that memorable day, the experienced Bundesliga player - who also featured for HSV, Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt - remembers the celebrations well: "Amateurs and Oberliga clubs can party just as hard as the big clubs, perhaps even a little bit better!"