For David Bates, leaving the Rangers was never a matter of money. The move to Hamburg was a search for personal growth. Both as a football player and as a man.

"I came here to get better," says the 22-year-old Sports mail between salad fork in a hotel near the center of the German city. "It was never about money. I talked to my agent and we asked, "What's the best option for me as a footballer?"

"Is this unusual for a Scottish player? Could be. But I had to wonder if I would get this chance again.

David Bates loves life in Hamburg, having moved from Rangers earlier this summer

David Bates loves life in Hamburg, having moved from Rangers earlier this summer

David Bates loves life in Hamburg, having moved from Rangers earlier this summer

"I could have stayed in Scotland, I could have gone to England. But you do not often have the chance to join a club the size of Hamburg. The people at home do not know how big this club is.

"Coming to Germany was one of the best things I've ever done."

The move from Glasgow to a second-division side raised eyebrows, but Bates refutes allegations he has rallied the Rangers over a new contract. Even when he grew up in the Fife coastal village of Limekilns, he had the vague idea of ​​one day playing abroad.

Hamburg sporting director Johannes Spors had a look at Moussa Dembele in his 0-0 draw with Celtic in Parkhead last December. Bates could not refuse.

Now he is learning German three times a week, walking unhindered through the streets of Hamburg and seeing more of his family and friends as he plays for Rangers, thanks to a daily direct flight to Edinburgh.

"When the stuff about leaving Rangers appeared in the papers, I could not believe what I read," he says.

"I just wanted to come here to develop and improve myself as a footballer – it was not a question of money, I talked to other clubs in England and could have made more money there, but I wanted to be a better player and I'm already 100 Percent a better player than me.

"People always said my pass was weak and I was not good on the ball. Well, I'm better off now. We're always on the ball here. I've learned under former coach Christian Titz, whom she does not even know think in Scotland.

"The new manager Hannes Wolf also gives me his own ideas, and it is completely different than if you were at home. As a player, I have come a long way. I learn the game and know more than I know when to leave, when to go, when to dribble … "

The path to personal growth did not always run smoothly for the man known as "Ginger Ramos", a nickname that followed him from Ibrox to Germany.

Bates used to travel across the Forth Bridge to play for Hearts, until his 13th birthday broke through the puberty.

"I have experienced a growth spurt and lost everything," he says. "I lost my pace, I lost my clout and maybe I became a bit self-conscious.

"I was 13 and my self confidence went. I did not feel like I was the same player and Hearts had so many strikers. "

Bates rejects allegations that he has ransomed the Rangers for a new contract

Bates rejects allegations that he has ransomed the Rangers for a new contract

Bates rejects allegations that he has ransomed the Rangers for a new contract

After a trial with Cowdenbeath, he signed for Raith Rovers at the age of 17. There he became the casual center-back of football.

"After a few games, they did not have a center-back one day and asked me if I would play there," he recalls.

"At first it was funny. But I loved playing football. I grew a lot before I left Hearts, and my size suited the role. I somehow fell for it. "

There was a rental spell in East Stirling. A few months in Brechin City under Mentor Ray McKinnon. Long before the 57,000-seat People's Park Stadium became an impressive new home, Bates had played in all Scottish football clubs. It offered recognition for the life he has now.

"When I was at Raith, I walked into the stadium as a kid, packed a truck with bibs, balls and pins and drove to the Michael Woods Sports Center in Glenrothes to meet the first-team players," he says.

"It was a community sports center. They would go to the gym and be with grandmas and everyone else from afar. I had to clean four pairs of boots every day. We would sweep the floors, clean the dressing rooms. I even washed the dishes.

"Then I went to Rangers a few years ago and suddenly it was right in front of me. I would go to the gym and there was nobody there. And I did not have to pay. They had boot boys, cleaning lady, you name it.

That was not a bad thing (time before Ranger) – because I appreciate what I have now. I saw how good the Rangers were. I see how good it is in Hamburg. We trained every day on Astroturf and when you come here, the places are like carpets.

"And that makes you think to yourself," I want to stay at this level for as long as I can … "

The desire to make the best possible use of his talent was drummed into him by Papa David. As a former coach at Inverkeithing United, he remains the hardest critic of his son.

"I came back from school at the age of 13 or 14, and dad jumped right on his bike and said to me," Come out, run, keep yourself fit. "

"Sometimes I could see it far enough, but he had to take the time to rest on my laurels."

Bates joined the Rangers in 2016 and was determined to take the opportunity to the last drop. If he fails, it is not due to a lack of effort.

"I was always in the gym and I saw boys saying," Oh, not today. I do not like it. "

"Maybe there were times when I was too much in. But then I would see that players are not doing enough because they do not know what they had.

"They are not lazy, they have no commitment. Maybe they are just better footballers than me. Maybe they are more natural athletes.

"But I want to make the most of what was given to me."

Now he is learning German three times a week and is walking unhindered through the streets of Hamburg

Now he is learning German three times a week and is walking unhindered through the streets of Hamburg

Now he is learning German three times a week and is walking unhindered through the streets of Hamburg

The desire to improve and play at a higher level convinced him to try his luck in Germany. Despite Rangers' 20 appearances for Rangers last season, Football's Ibrox director, Mark Allen, was blunt that the club would sign new defenders.

Asked if he ever felt that rangers really wanted to keep him, he says, "If I'm honest? If they really wanted me, they would have done it.

"But these things happen and sometimes for a reason.

"My contract had expired and we decided to see what was out there.

"When I heard about Hamburg, I thought," Wow, what a chance that could be ".

"I went to the Volksparkstadion to sign and was blown off the plaza.

"I was excited to get in as fast as possible and prove a point."

His new life in German football, however, had a bad start. For the first time in their history, Hamburg drew 3-0 against Holstein Kiel, the first game in the 2nd Bundesliga. Bates was substituted after 57 minutes.

Three months later, he has ten appearances and eight times without a goal. A youthful partnership with Dutch Under-21 player Rick van Drongelen is now taking shape, and his German lessons are improving in class.

"It's important to speak the language," he says. "When the manager speaks, I have to be able to choose sentences and understand what he says.

& # 39; It's hard. But my teammate (formerly Spurs and Fulham midfielder), Lewis Holtby, has an English father. Strangely enough, his Gran comes from Dunfermline, where I grew up. At least someone understands what I say …

Recent reports in England have said that Arsenal and Everton have seen him in action, and that's more than the SFA can say.

To move beyond the Under-21 team, he uses international calls to buy the bottles of his beloved HP sauce ("That's the only thing I miss").

Life in Germany is good. As he set out to seek personal growth, he proved himself a generous teacher.

"The city is beautiful, my girlfriend is here with me and there is no shortage of nice restaurants," says Bates.

"I've never enjoyed football like this. The style of play, the coaching and the way you look after them. The coaching staff believe that I feel better. Even my dad says I improve and listen, if he even thinks that …


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