He kept Lionel Messi quiet on his Champions League debut, has pushed Scotland to within a whisker of the World Cup play-offs, and hopes to spring an upset against Manchester City.
Yet just over a year ago, Bruges defender Jack Hendry could have been forgiven for thinking he would never see days like these.
Crying in pain, thousands of miles from home, Hendry was alone in his Australian apartment nursing a torn medial ligament in his knee.
Scottish defender Jack Hendry gets to grips with Kylian Mbappe as Club Bruges drew with PSG
Hendry, 26, rose to the challenge of keeping Lionel Messi and Co quiet as the game finished 1-1
He had been man of the match in his first game for Melbourne City, on loan from Celtic, and the second game was going similarly well when, in the 96th minute, he made a tackle.
His knee caught in the long, dry grass but his body carried on sliding. The ‘sickening pop’ he heard told him how bad the injury would be.
Now, barely 19 months on, Hendry, 26, is at Bruges being hailed as one of the best defenders in Belgium. He was lauded for his Champions League performance against Messi’s Paris Saint-German and takes on Manchester City on Tuesday night.
‘It’s crazy to think where I am now compared to that time in Australia,’ Hendry tells Sportsmail. ‘In those first days after the injury, I couldn’t even bear putting weight on my leg to go the toilet or to get a drink of water, the pain reduced me to tears.
‘I just wanted someone there to help me, I felt so alone, so far away from family. It was the darkest of times but probably one of the best things for me to go through in a crazy sort of way.
Hendry also hopes to help his country into the play-offs for next year’s World Cup in Qatar
Hendry set up Scott McTominay’s dramatic stoppage time winner against Israel at Hampden
‘I’m a more mature person for the adversity and physically I’m much stronger.’
The 6ft 4in Hendry has nothing but praise for the way Melbourne, part of the City group, reacted to help him through his recuperation.
Such was his recovery, five months later Celtic put him out on another loan to Oostende. By the end of that season, he was voted best player in Belgium, prompting Bruges to sign him on August’s deadline day.
‘I didn’t understand why I didn’t get more chances at Celtic but coming to Belgium has proved a good decision,’ says Hendry who shares a city centre apartment with girlfriend and psychology student, Robyn.
‘I’m at a very important club in Bruges. It’s a great environment with lovely people and I’m competing in the Champions League against teams of the calibre of PSG, Red Bull Leipzig and Manchester City.’
Bruges were expected to be the Group A whipping boys but they won away to RB Leipzig
Hendry, seen beating Mauro Icardi to the ball against PSG, has taken to the Champions League
Expected to be the whipping boys in Group A, Bruges held their own in the first two games
Hendry regards himself to be in the best shape of his career, bolstered by having his double jab of vaccinations. ‘I was floored by Covid in January. It wasn’t a pleasant experience so when the club suggested getting the jabs I had no qualms.
‘I’m not one to judge or preach to others if they don’t want them or are apprehensive but all I can say is I have had no ill-effects so far.
‘I’m not going to fall out with you if you choose not to have them but everyone at Bruges has been double vaccinated and if that makes us good role models, so be it.’
His brush with Covid did deprive him of his sense of taste but he has even turned that to his advantage. ‘I never liked fish but I know it’s good for me so I’ve started to introduce it to my diet as I still can’t taste it at the moment!’
Well-educated, Hendry has immersed himself in Bruges’ rich medieval history, has ‘picked up a bit of French and Dutch’ and is threatening to give goalkeeper Simon Mignolet a lesson or two in golf, another sport he could have turned his hand to.
‘Simon has been great for me. He’s been offering to take me for a round of golf and there’s a nice course up by the coast. I’m from a very competitive family though.’
Hendry was at Celtic for three years but was never able to earn a regular spot in the team
After a loan spell from Celtic to Oostende, he signed for the Belgian club permanently
Former Liverpool star Mignolet isn’t the only stand out name in Bruges’ talented squad, however. Midfielder Hans Vanaken and winger Noa Long are being watched by clubs such as West Ham, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leeds United.
Bruges were still viewed as the whipping boys when drawn out for Group A, however, they have surprised everyone with a credible 1-1 draw against PSG’s all stars and a 2-1 win over Leipzig.
Indeed, Hendry’s Champions League bow came against the fantasy league frontline of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
‘It’s unusual to come up against three players of such ability in the one team but our coach was great in the build-up. He just said “they’re only human, two arms, two legs. Don’t be afraid, you can compete…”
‘The atmosphere was amazing. Luckily my family were able to be there. They have experienced big games at Celtic but the noise from the Bruges fans that night blew us all away. I could hardly hear what my team-mates were saying on the pitch it was that loud.’
Hendry is threatening to give goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (centre left) a lesson or two in golf
Bruges have provided Hendry with the opportunity to test himself in Europe’s top competition
It meant his focus needed to be all the sharper against PSG’s front three.
‘I’d be picking up Mbappe trying to match his runs on my side one minute then Messi. They didn’t talk to each other much, they play instinctively, interchanging, dropping off then running behind you.
‘It’s not so much physically exhausting, it’s the mental part because you can’t switch off for a second. It’s an education to see how they work up close.’
Although a confessed fan of the trio, Hendry did not want to be seen making a beeline for their shirts afterwards.
‘As much as I would have liked one, I don’t like seeing players chase after someone’s shirt. I waited till I got in the dressing room then asked the kit man if he could find a swap for me. He came back with Ander Herrera’s shirt which was still great. Though he actually scored PSG’s goal on the night.’
Tuesday night sees Bruges come up against Pep Guardiola’s star-studded Man City team
City prepared for the match in Belgium with a 2-0 Premier League win over Burnley
Hendry is hoping he can pick up more than just a shirt as a memento from the clash with City on Tuesday night.
‘City are probably the best team in the world. I watched them against Liverpool and PSG and they are so well drilled with such a pool of quality players. It’s the collective force. They have a great hunger for this competition too.
‘Whether I’m up against Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne or Jack Grealish it’s going to be the sternest of challenges. Concentration levels will be going through the roof.
‘We just have to be positive and try and spring an upset. These kind of games are the main reason I came to Bruges, I could only dream about them when I was in Australia.’