Exclusive - Scotland star Jack Hendry has told 90min of his delight at helping Club Brugge earn a famous draw with PSG in the Champions League, managing to keep out the most hyped front-line in footballing history; Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi.
Hendry was making his Champions League group stage debut for his new club, and they produced one of the top performances of the European week to defy the odds and claim a point against Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Neymar, Mbappe and Messi started for the first time together in Belgium, but despite the hype they could not find a way through. Instead, the Parisians’ goal in a 1-1 draw arrived via former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera.
Hendry was at the heart of the defence for Philippe Clement’s side, playing in only his second for the club following his switch from Oostende, and he's revealed his delight with how he performed on the night.
“To make my debut against that team, against that front three was amazing – they are a really good team and I thoroughly enjoyed it," Hendry told 90min. "But first and foremost we competed and performed against one of the best teams in the competition.
“From a personal point of view I was delighted with my own performance and it gives me that confidence knowing I can play at that level.
“I haven’t actually trained much with the squad, only a few sessions but I have now played two games and one of those against Paris Saint Germain – it has certainly been a whirlwind few weeks to be honest, but that is why I came to Club Brugge and you won’t get a bigger test than against those front here but I have learned a lot and I can take a lot from it.”
But was he rewarded by any of the big three with their shirts? That is the question many are asking.
“I didn’t swap with any of them, I didn’t really ask,” Hendry remarked.
“I think a couple of lads asked and I believe Wesley, who has joined us from Aston Villa, might have got Neymar's as they know each other from Brazil, but Mbappe went off early and don’t think Messi swapped. But it was just an amazing experience for the whole group and we have another group game coming with them.”
Hendry, who was voted the best defender in Belgium last season, went on to reveal his delight at joining Brugge after leaving Celtic permanently earlier this summer.
“I am at an amazing club now and I am just aiming to keep progressing and playing against these types of players they will know they are in for a hard game,” he continued.
“The infrastructure of the club is fantastic, we are the most dominant team in Belgium and we want to keep it that way, people know clubs like an Anderlecht but Club Brugge are now the mainstay in Belgium and we want to be across Europe too.
"The training ground is unreal, one of the best I have seen and now we just have to keep ourselves in Europe and keeping building on that, as the plans going forward are impressive and we can show that we can compete at this level.”
The 26-year-old admitted that he maintains his ambitions to play for the biggest clubs in the world, and that remains the case – but Club Brugge are firmly his main focus.
“I want to and need to prove myself,” he said.
“I do I have that ambition to play in one of the best leagues in Europe. My future is open, obviously being British there is the Premier League but my ambition is to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world wherever that might be, and I believe I can do that. But I am at a great club now, who can push me, my full focus is on Brugge and that is all I can look at now. Things will take care of themselves.”
The next 18 months could hold a lot for Hendry, and he is hoping for plenty of silverware and a World Cup appearance with Scotland.
“Of course I have big ambitions, I came to Brugge to be successful, I am here to win league titles and cups, and then internationally it is the World Cup and we have put ourselves in a good place, and we have it in our hands to at least get in the play-offs and it is looking promising and I just want to keep pushing on all levels.”