Andreas Hinkel had many highs during his time as a professional footballer. He was a winner of the UEFA Cup, the Copa del Rey, and he even won the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish League Cup with Celtic. Between 2008 and 2011, Glasgow was Hinkel’s home. In 2022, he looks back fondly on this “special time” in his life.
We spoke to assistant coach on his flight to Glasgow.
Andi, Glasgow was your home for three and a half years. How does it feel to be heading back there as we speak?
I am looking forward to it. I spent three and a half fantastic years there and I felt really at home. I have great memories there connected to football and to Celtic, but also to my family. My first daughter was even born in Glasgow.
So it’s safe to assume that you hoped our paths would cross with Rangers in the Europa League?
I was hoping for it in all honesty. I know the atmosphere at Ibrox very well; it will really motivate me as a former Celtic player. It’s something special to play against your former club but in this case, I still feel like I am a part of the Celtic family and of course you’re completely fired up to play Rangers.
I still feel like I am a part of the Celtic family
You were involved in a few Glasgow derbies and your personal record against Rangers is in the balance. Do you think you can polish it up a bit on Thursday night?
Even though I played in lots of derbies, I didn’t actually know my record until now (laughs). That derby was and is something incredibly special. The “Old Firm” derby, as it is known, is the mother of all derbies and there is always an unbelievable atmosphere.
Which game against Rangers sticks out in your memory?
There was a particular game in April 2008. It was a game under the floodlights, which is rare for an Old Firm derby because they usually take place in the early afternoon for security reasons. This was a game that had everything. It was end-to-end, both teams scored, there was a sending-off and even a missed penalty. We scored in injury time to win the game 2-1 and we went on to win the league at the end of the season, partly due to this game. It was unforgettable.
Football has its roots in Glasgow.
You got a taste of the Rangers fans when they came to Leipzig. As someone who has experienced the fan culture in Scotland first-hand, what would you say makes it so special?
Football has its roots in Glasgow. The first international match took place nearby, for example. The city has three incredible stadiums, all with an incredible atmosphere. I can’t even begin to explain what makes the fans so special. It would take all day.
You have a lot of experience of Scottish football and you even won the UEFA Cup with Sevilla. Are you our secret weapon on Thursday?
This will be a bit of a trip down memory lane for me. As we have established, I spent a lot of time in Glasgow. I even won the UEFA Cup with Sevilla there in 2007. Ironically, this year the final will take place in Seville, so hopefully we will be there.
Of course I want to bring all my experience to the table. I have won trophies with many different clubs and this has given me knowledge that I can pass on.
Despite all your experience, do you still get nervous before big games such as these?
There is a certain atmosphere in the build-up to these games that you cannot get away from. This hasn’t changed since I was a player. But since then, I’ve maybe become able to deal with these situations a bit better.
The only downside is that now I can’t go out on the pitch and influence the game as a player.
Let’s talk about the second leg at Ibrox. What sort of a game are you expecting?
I think it will be different to the first leg. Rangers won’t play like they did in Leipzig. They have their fans behind them and they will try to play more on the front foot. Because they are behind in the tie, they will need to try and make something happen.
Will we have to adapt our game, not least because of the atmosphere?
We have a slender 1-0 lead but it is only half time. We cannot rest on our laurels. We have analysed our opponents and are prepared for different scenarios.
We will soon be landing in Glasgow. Will you get the chance to walk round your favourite places while you’re there?
We arrived a day early because of the short time in between this game and the Gladbach game. Our final training session will take place in the stadium itself and that will help us to get a feel for the surroundings. There won’t be too much spare time on top of that. If I get the chance I will have a walk through the city but I don’t have anything planned (laughs).