The departure was unexpected, but can be considered symbolic for Martin Hinteregger.
The headlines that the Carinthian, who is always close to the public, delivered as a football professional truly fill books. The 29-year-old said goodbye to Salzburg as well as to FC Augsburg. A video of a boozy celebration in the Augsburg training camp also caused a stir, as did the tattooing in the ÖFB team.
Apparently it was never easy with Hinteregger. From his Carinthian home Sirnitz, the young Carinthian was drawn to the Salzburg Academy at the age of 14. He made his first appearances in the Bundesliga under Huub Stevens, where he made his debut in autumn 2010.
The defender should not only celebrate a title with Salzburg: three times champion, three times cup winner – but also a dispute. After losing again in qualifying for the Champions League in 2015, Hinteregger publicly criticized the team. Coach Peter Zeidler was not pleased.
Hinteregger is rarely at a loss for words
The following winter, as a solution to the simmering conflict, he was loaned to Mönchengladbach, and the following summer Hinteregger finally said goodbye to Germany: Augsburg brought the central defender, who apparently categorically ruled out a transfer to RB Leipzig.
A few weeks later, Hinteregger explained that he was “angered at Leipzig because Salzburg is symptomatically breaking down”. He rarely minced his words.
This did not remain hidden in Augsburg either. There were differences of opinion with coach Manuel Baum. “I can’t say anything positive, but I can’t say anything negative about the coach either,” Hinteregger said of the coach who put him on the sidelines.
Eintracht Frankfurt under coach Adi Hütter struck a loan contract in winter 2019. In Frankfurt he became the darling of the public. Pictures of “Hinti” with a crate of beer on the way to the dressing room made for sympathy points. “We’re Hinti Army now” sang the Eintracht fans in honor of the Austrian.
Hinteregger had to return to Augsburg in the summer. This was followed by a mobile phone video of the professional, who was apparently no longer sober, on an evening excursion during the training camp in Bad Häring (Tyrol). After a tough struggle, Eintracht got Hinteregger quickly.
Because of injury: No game under Rangnick
Shortly thereafter, Austria’s team manager at the time, Franco Foda, also made the acquaintance of a celebrating Hinteregger. At a celebration for his 27th birthday, he went far beyond the curfew.
Hinteregger was then denied the trip to the European Championship qualifier in Poland the following day. “I celebrated my birthday at a bad time,” he later said. But under Foda he remained a regular.
As in the disappointing finals in 2016, Hinteregger also made it to the 2021 European Championships with Austria’s selection, where they lost to Italy in the round of 16. He missed the games under neo-coach Ralf Rangnick due to injury. Hinteregger said he hadn’t seen any of them just a few days ago in the “Standard” interview.
The cause of a public collaboration with Heinrich Sickl, who had rented premises in Graz to the right-wing extremist Identitarian Movement, was already simmering in the background. This was followed with interest at Eintracht.
The debate then turned into a resignation on Thursday – the surprise was also great in Frankfurt.
Media “want perfect professionals”
It remains to be seen to what extent the latest chapter in his career will find its way into the book “Inside View” he co-wrote. As a co-author, Hinteregger wrote, among other things, about how he was able to escape the threatening gambling addiction or how public pressure caused him to fall into a deep, black hole.
There are anecdotes about why he spent a night in an elevator, or how he slid down the stairs of a basement bar on a toboggan before a game against Bayern Munich.
Hinteregger’s football career was never boring. In “Standard” he recently said about the media landscape: “They want perfect professionals like a Haaland and not ones who step out of the machine. Those with rough edges are no longer wanted, although I would think it’s good that exactly that is promoted becomes.”