This article is part of Football League World’s ‘FLW Greats’ series, this content strand is where we look back on a player’s individual season and discuss how impressive they were…
The 2015-2016 season is certainly one Hull City fans will remember as Steve Bruce guided their side to an instant return to the Premier League.
City began life back in the Championship in 2015 following a two-year stint in the Premier League, after their automatic promotion back in 2013 and were amongst the favourites for promotion to the top tier.
In a team containing Harry Maguire and Andy Robertson, one man, in particular, who will be remembered during that brilliant campaign is Uruguayan forward Abel Hernandez who had arrived at the club in September 2014 from Palermo.
It’s fair to say that Hernandez’s first season in English football was underwhelming, managing just four goals in 25 Premier League appearances as the Tigers were relegated from the top tier.
Hernandez didn’t take long to find his stride in the second tier, however, scoring seven goals in his first 11 matches of the 2015-2016 season and despite seeing his penalty at Nottingham Forest in October saved, he was still on hand to bundle home the ball from close range from the resulting corner.
The 29-year-old, who is now playing for Al Ahli in Qatar, demonstrated over the course of the season that he could score a collection of goals, from all angles.
On Boxing Day of 2015, Hull thrashed fellow promotion contenders and eventual champions, Burnley, with Hernandez scoring the pick of the goals in a 3-0 rout.
Hernandez ran onto a ball played out wide and instinctively cut inside the Burnley box, hammering a powerful strike past Tom Heaton to put the Tigers two goals to the good and send a big statement to the rest of the Championship.
Things would get even better for the Tigers and Hernandez when just a few weeks later the Uruguayan would hit a first-half hat-trick in City’s stunning 6-0 win over Charlton Athletic.
Hernandez would once again open the scoring three games later when City defeated Blackburn Rovers 2-0 at Ewood Park, with the 29-year-old rounding the on-rushing Jason Steele before cooly slotting into an open net.
Following the Blackburn game, Hernandez would go on an unfamiliar period of struggling to score and would only manage four more Championship goals in his last 14 games of the campaign, however, he would round off the regular season with four goals in the final five games as City secured a play-off place.
QUIZ: The higher or lower Hull City challenge – can you get 15/15?
With Hull finishing fourth in the Championship, a play-off semi-final tie with Derby County awaited Steve Bruce’s men, with the first-leg being played at Pride Park.
Bruce and the City faithful couldn’t ask for a better start to the play-offs with the Tigers cruising to a 3-0 win in the East Midlands, with Hernandez getting City off the mark on the 30th minute.
Latching onto a scuffed ball from Jake Livermore, the Uruguayan drove a low and hard shot past Scott Carson from 22 yards to send one corner of Pride Park into raptures.
After surviving an early scare of a Derby County comeback in the second leg of the play-offs, Hernandez started the play-off final against Sheffield Wednesday in a game where Mo Diame sealed City’s instant return to the top-flight.
Hernandez would once again struggle in the Premier League, scoring just four goals in 24 appearances as City were relegated back to the Championship the following season.
Unfortunately, the 29-year-old suffered an achilles tendon injury which would limit his playing time to just 10 appearances in the 2017-2018 season but he would still net eight times across that campaign.
Looking back it was no surprise that Hull won promotion back in 2015-2016 when you recall the squad Steve Bruce had at his disposal that campaign.
Although Hernandez tended to struggle in the Premier League and was desperately unlucky with injury in 2017, there is no doubt that Hull fans saw the best of the Uruguayan over the course of the play-off winning campaign.