Brighton & Hove Albion defender Uwe Huenemeier’s summer departure was confirmed today, and the German has certainly played his part in the club’s recent successful history.
Huenemeier arrived from SC Paderborn in August 2015, where the centre-back captained the side to the Bundesliga 2 title in his first season at the club in 2013/14.
The defender made his Albion debut in the memorable 2-1 victory away at Fulham that same month, as Tomer Hemed’s stoppage-time penalty claimed all three points late on in west London.
Huenemeier adapted quickly to the English game and was a mainstay in Chris Hughton’s side for the first half of the campaign, before picking a groin injury in December in the 3-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough.
The injury was far more serious than originally feared and the defender did not play for the Seagulls for another eight months, returning in the 4-2 EFL Cup win over Oxford United in August 2016.
The defender struggled to reclaim his place back in the team with the imperious centre-back partnership of Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk, but did return to league action in the scintillating 3-3 draw with Brentford in February 2017.
Further appearances followed due to Duffy being ruled out for a spell through injury, and Huenemeier scored his first and so far only goal for the Seagulls in a 3-1 win over Birmingham City in April last year.
The German made a total of 18 appearances in Albion’s unforgettable 2016/17 promotion-winning campaign, including the 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic, which ultimately confirmed the club’s place in the Premier League for the first time.
Huenemeier has made seven appearances for Albion so far this season, including one in the Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Stevenage in November last year.
His most recent outing came in the 3-1 Emirates FA Cup fifth round victory over Coventry City back in February.
Huenemeier will now re-join an SC Paderborn side looking to rebuild after a turbulent spell since the influential German’s departure. The club finished bottom of Bundesliga 2 in 2015/16.
The following season saw the club finish 18th in Bundesliga and faced another relegation, but the failure of 1860 Munich to gain a license to compete in Bundesliga 2 for 2017/18, saw Paderborn avoid relegation for a third consecutive season.
The experienced defender will now be eager to spark the revival of his former club, who currently sit second in Bundesliga 3, just two points behind league leaders FC Magdeburg.
Despite his limited game time in recent months, Hughton paid this tribute to Huenemeier, which sums up his time perfectly on the south coast, “From the moment he came, he has been excellent for us. He trains well every single day, he is a valued member of the club because it's not just about the 11 that play but the squad and good training groups.
"Whatever happens with Uwe, he has been wonderful for me personally and for this club."