Nobody, including Celtic, could've foreseen the rise of Jack Hendry

By Euan Davidson

March 12, 2021

Celtic fans, be honest with me: did you predict Jack Hendry to be a “£10m player” this time last year [TEAMtalk]?

With zero offence intended to the Scottish defender, Hendry’s rise at KV Oostende has been nothing short of remarkable. If there were fairytales written about former Dundee centre-backs, this story would still seem beyond the realms of likelihood.

It’s taken as read now that Hendry will move on for big money. Annoyingly, KV Oostende have an option to buy the Celtic outcast and sell him on for a fee far exceeding any realistic expectations. From an outsider perspective, it could appear that the club have been foolish. That, Celtic have sleepwalked into taking a multi-million pound hit on someone who’s clearly a decent footballer.

There will be a degree of revisionism about Jack Hendry. “We should give him another go”, “he would’ve been class this season”. Yes, the Bhoys have endured a horrifying season from a defensive perspective. But not once in his Celtic career did Jack Hendry ever really look like the answer.

For the record, I like the guy. But I never thought he looked comfortable in the Hoops. Relatively impressive for Dundee and Wigan, it felt like the Green and White jersey hung heavy on his shoulders. In fairness to him, he tried to adjust to Brendan Rodgers’ high-intensity game, with passing from the back and all the rest.

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However, he was caught out. Time and again. It would’ve taken a supporter with incredible faith in Hendry’s abilities to defend him, even two years ago.

Celtic defender Jack Hendry / (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

The Jack Hendry renaissance will elude Celtic, but it’s been incredible

Bear in mind that before his spell with Oostende, he suffered a horrendous injury [Daily Record]. Not only has he recovered, he’s thrived. If he’d played for Wellington Phoenix rather than Melbourne City, the headlines would’ve written themselves.

Let’s not pretend, though, that any of us expected this. The club will take a hammering over Jack Hendry, no doubt, but it’ll be grossly unfair.

Few would’ve batted an eyelid at Hendry taking in a second loan spell away from the club. It’s testament and a huge credit to Jack Hendry that he’s now in demand. There’s a realistic chance he’ll be a Premier League defender next season.

That, in and of itself, isn’t an accolade. Jean-Alain Boumsoung was a Premier League defender. Still, given the price tags attached to PL talent, it’s a clear sign of how Hendry has turned around his image.

Certainly, he’s impressed in Belgium. KV Oostende, on the basis of a solid defence, are mounting an unlikely charge on the top 4 [BBC]. Having conceded 37 goals in 30 games, they boast one of the meanest rear-guards in the Jupiler Pro League. Jack Hendry is a part of that.

But did anyone see this coming? Honestly, the answer is no. Least of all Celtic.

In a summer rebuild where every penny will count, we might watch as Oostende rake in multi-millions for a Bhoys outcast. Still, we needn’t blame the club for that. They watched the same player we did.

Best of luck to him. It’d be hard to find anyone in world football who has performed such a Lazarus-style change of fortunes.

If anybody is due some credit and a hefty wage increase, surely it’s Jack Hendry.

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