Paris Saint-Germain have gained a fair few armchair viewers this season following the signing of Lionel Messi, with the Argentine joining former Barcelona team-mate Neymar and French superstar Kylian Mbappe to form – on paper at least – the world most feared front three.
They are certainly the world’s best paid front three, earning a respective £650,000, £490,000 and £310,000 each every week – nearly £1.5m-a-week in total.
As those extra viewers watched the newly-styled ‘MNM’ huff and puff against Club Bruges to no avail on Wednesday night, however, their eyes may have been drawn to someone in the black and blue stripes of the home side.
Standing tall in the centre of their three man defence and earning the man of the match award on his Champions League debut was a little-known Scottish centre back by the name of Jack Hendry.
Club Bruges defender Jack Hendry grapples with PSG forward Kylian Mbappe
Hendry holds off a challenge from Neymar as Club Bruges hold PSG to a 1-1 draw
Hendry was key in keeping Lionel Messi (centre) quiet on his Champions League bow for PSG
At 6ft 4in, he’s hard to miss, but it’s Hendry’s composure on the ball and reading of the game which stand out, rather than his physical capabilities, which he rarely had to use against Messi and Co on Wednesday night, so good was his positioning.
So, where’s he been hiding? Well, here, there and everywhere.
Hendry’s has been a nomadic career with a few false starts, but in Belgium he is finally starting to fulfil the potential which managers like Brendan Rodgers have seen in him for a long time.
The fact Hendry has only played 130 senior matches in his career despite turning 26 in the summer is symptomatic of the troubles he has had settling at most of his 11 clubs. As with all footballers, injuries and luck have played their part.
Like with many promising young footballers born in Glasgow, Hendry found himself in Celtic’s academy at a young age, but was let go aged 16 after seven years at the club. From there, he took a punt moving down south to join Peterborough’s academy.
After two years though, Hendry was again let go – Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony revealed his ‘regret’ at the decision on Twitter recently – and he moved back north of the border to join Dundee United. After just a year at Tannadice, Hendry was again without a club aged 19, and could have been forgiven for thinking he might not make it as a footballer. Then came the break he needed.
Partick Thistle took a chance on him and after a year impressing in their development squad he finally played his first professional match on the final day of the 2014-15 season aged 20.
Hendry made his professional debut for Partick Thistle (L) before joining Wigan (R) in 2015
HENDRY’S 11 CLUBS
Dundee United (2013-14)
Partick Thistle (2014-15)
Wigan Athletic (2015-17)
Shrewsbury (2016, loan)
MK Dons (2016, loan)
Melbourne City (2020, loan)
Oostende (2020-21, loan)
Club Bruges (2021-)
Hendry was straight into the first-team at the start of the 2015-16 season, impressing in Partick’s opening three Scottish Premiership matches and earning admiring glances from south of the border.
Everton were credited with an interest but Hendry opted to join Wigan in League One under the management of fellow Scot Gary Caldwell. The move would prove to be another false dawn for Hendry, however, as he was farmed out on loan to Shrewsbury and MK Dons, making only three appearances for Wigan in the Football League trophy in two years at the club.
After being released in 2017 it was back up to Scotland, with Dundee becoming the eighth club on Hendry’s C.V. at the tender age of 22. Playing regular football for the first time, he flourished in the Scottish Premiership in the first half of the season under Neil McCann.
So good was his form, then-Celtic boss Rodgers was desperate to take him back to Parkhead and forced through a £1.5m club-record sale for Dundee. It would prove to be another false dawn for Hendry, however.
The Glaswegian tasted regular first-team football for the first time at Dundee in 2017
That earned him a move back to Celtic, but things didn’t work out for Hendry at Parkhead
A series of high-profile errors in his first few months at the club quickly saw his confidence wane, and Rodgers opted to bring in Filip Benkovic that summer to bump Hendry further down the pecking order behind Kristoffer Ajer and Dedryck Boyata.
Having been limited to a handful of cup appearances for the whole of 2018-19 and the start of the following season, Hendry took the opportunity to join Melbourne City on loan in January 2020 in the hope of a fresh start. Again though, luck would conspire against him as he injured knee ligaments in just his second appearance for the club.
Having recovered from surgery in time for the start of last season, but still well down the Celtic pecking order, Hendry took the opportunity to join Belgian side Oostende on loan. They had finished 15th out of 16 the season before and it looked a desperate move from the outside looking in.
But Hendry’s perseverence and desire to challenge himself in new leagues finally paid off as he captained the minnows to fifth place, earning rave reviews along the way and being named Belgium’s player of the year by the respected Sport Voetbal magazine.
Hendry had an outstanding season for Oostende, captain the Belgian minnows to fifth place
In the process he earned his Scotland place back. Having last played in March 2018 after joining Celtic, Hendry was back in Steve Clarke’s squad in March ahead of the Euros and in their starting line-up for their opener against Czech Republic.
He was at fault for Patrik Schick’s wondergoal, however, trying a speculative shot from 30 yards and being caught out of position when the ball rebounded to the striker, who finished sensationally from near the halfway line. Hendry was subbed off shortly after and then dropped for the England and Croatia matches, but found his way back into Clarke’s side for the recent World Cup qualifying wins over Moldova and Denmark.
That recall owed much to how Hendry has started the season with his 11th club, Club Bruges. Having agreed an option to buy Hendry for £1.8m from Celtic before their loan, Oostende decided to cash in on the defender this summer, selling him to Belgium’s top club for an initial £6m, rising to £8.5m.
Newcastle, Southampton, Burnley and West Brom were all interested too, but Hendry opted to stay in Belgium having settled so well last season.
If he keeps up this form for Club Bruges, expect to see him in the Premier League before too long. The move certainly won’t faze him.
He has earned his place back in the Scotland team, starring in the recent win over Austria