Martin Hinteregger ended his career at Eintracht Frankfurt. It was the only way to put an end to an affair that produced only losers.
Do you know why Martin Hinteregger became a fan favorite in Frankfurt? Speaking personally for every fan is of course never possible. But if all fervent “Hinti” callers – past and present – had to agree on one positive characteristic of Martin Hinteregger, then this one would be the most likely: approachability.
The Austrian is one of us who don’t earn millions of euros from football. A person with rough edges. Someone who likes to drink a beer, and sometimes one too many. One who has always remained down to earth. Someone who speaks straight from the heart, doesn’t always think everything through – and sometimes gets it wrong.
No cult without escapades
Martin Hinteregger has made many mistakes in his career. Eintracht fans were able to smile away most of them. If you have never missed an important appointment at work because you had a glass too deep the night before, throw the first stone. You really can’t be angry with the “Hinti”. After all, without such escapades he would not have become a cult figure in the first place.
The problem is that you can very well be mad at him for being his teammate and probably his friend too. Maybe not the first time, maybe not the third time. But imagine you are Stefan Ilsanker and your friend Martin misses your official farewell because he had to turn the night before into day in the station district. Who wouldn’t be at least a little disappointed?
The break with some of the fans
Many fans were really angry for perhaps the first time in the past few days when the 29-year-old did business with a compatriot who is well known in the right-wing scene at his Hinti Cup. Although the Carinthian ended this business relationship immediately after a critical journalistic report, in several interviews he did what he was celebrated for often enough: he spoke straight from the heart – and only made everything worse.
Hinteregger felt he was being treated unfairly. After all, he didn’t know all that and the subject was being exaggerated far too much. From a PR point of view, that was certainly anything but wise, but it was exactly what the sensitive defender felt these days. “I really needed media advice and help,” the defender is now aware. Unfortunately too late.
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This time it wasn’t just one beer too many
Finally, a message from Eintracht said what Hinteregger should have said much earlier: “In the past few weeks, there have been a number of issues related to my ‘Hinti Cup’, which I have held with heart and soul and with a clear conscience, the scope of which It only became clear to me afterwards. Emotional, perhaps thoughtless words from me have led to irritation and I would like to apologize for that. I very much regret that.” Of course, the child had already fallen into the well.
With Eintracht, which under President Peter Fischer has always clearly positioned itself against racism, right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism, one could not help but classify this faux pas differently than previous ones. Of course, the club doesn’t believe in Hinteregger’s bad intentions either, of course they are convinced that the Austrian is not right and simply acted carelessly once again. But this time it was about more than one beer too many. It was about the DNA of this club.
Two options without loss of face
In the end, the only question was how best to resolve the matter without either party losing face. Hinteregger had previously announced that Eintracht would be his last professional stop. So there were only two options: either he apologizes and fulfills his contract as quietly as possible until 2024 – or he ends his career.
You can’t blame him for choosing the second option. After all the media hype, which Hinteregger never really wanted anyway, he decided to distance himself from professional football. Ultimately, only Hinteregger himself knows whether he would have made this decision if the incidents surrounding the Hinti Cup had not happened, as is now being insinuated.
Far too early, but inevitable
With Martin Hinteregger, Frankfurt not only loses a figure they can identify with and “real types” that are so rare in football, but also a really good central defender who, at 29, should actually be at the top of his game. Ultimately, there are no winners in this case. It’s actually a much too early career end for all sides. But an inevitable one.
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