David Bates' performances for Hamburg have got the thumbs up since he swapped Rangers for Germany. - © imago/DeFodi
David Bates' performances for Hamburg have got the thumbs up since he swapped Rangers for Germany. - © imago/DeFodi

David Bates: Who is Hamburg’s young Scotland centre-back, nicknamed the “Ginger Ramos”?

David Bates has been impressive since swapping Rangers for Hamburg last summer, helping his new employers to the top of Bundesliga 2 and forcing his way into Alex McLeish’s Scotland squad, but what else is there to know about the “Ginger Ramos”?

David Bates

Age: 22
Club: Hamburg
Position: Centre-back
Country: Scotland (2 caps)

Key stats

Three seasons ago, Bates was playing in front of a few hundred people – and a hedge – at Brechin City’s Glebe Park (google it, we’re not lying!). From the third tier of Scottish football, via stints with Raith Rovers and Rangers, he is now a central-defensive mainstay at Hamburg, one of Germany’s most prestigious clubs. Until last season, the Red Shorts had spent 55 uninterrupted years in the Bundesliga, the league’s only ever-present team. Bates has been central to their attempts to make an immediate return. The 22-year-old has started 13 of Hamburg’s 20 games as they have raced to the top of the table. Standing at 6’4”, Bates unsurprisingly wins around two thirds of his aerial challenges, but he is not simply a battering ram - Bates has a top speed of more than 21 miles per hour and covers an average of 6.8 miles per match, while his distribution has come on leaps and bounds since arriving in Germany, his pass completion currently standing at a respectable 87 per cent.

David Bates (l.) and Fiete Arp (r.) - young Hamburg teammates for the rest of this season at least, after the latter agreed to join Bayern Munich. - imago/Michael Schwarz

Plays a bit like: Niklas Süle

Bates may have picked up the nickname “Ginger Ramos,” but with a frame a shade more impressive vertically than horizontally, a deceptive turn of pace and even a sleeve tattoo on his arm, the Scotsman bears a significantly closer resemblance to Bayern Munich’s first-choice centre-back, Niklas Süle. Neither commit as many fouls as Real Madrid captain Sergio either, with Bates’ haul of three yellow cards in 1,175 Bundesliga 2 minutes the return of a player who quells the danger at source, rather than having to compensate later.

Did you know?

Hamburg discovered Bates almost by accident. HSV’s head scout Johannes Spors watched a replay of the Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers the winter before last. That Bates played at all was only due to Portugal centre-back Bruno Alves getting injured inside the first 20 minutes. For the remaining 70, the then 21-year-old orchestrated his side’s defence, though, helping them to a rare clean sheet at Celtic Park. “He was a player who was obviously under the radar, so we watched the game back and he was really good,” said Spors. “Then I flew to Glasgow, watched him live and then met him in person. Sometimes you can discover players by random and that’s what happened here.”

David Bates (r.) first impressed Hamburg scout Johannes Spors in the Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers. - imago/Action Plus

What they’re saying

“To come out and improve my game, that was the main idea. I sat down and spoke to my agent and my family and that was the main reason to come over here, to improve as a player.” – Bates on coming to Germany

“With Bates, we were so confident about the player’s ability, we would’ve signed him for either the Bundesliga or Bundesliga 2 – whatever league we were in.” – Hamburg scout Spors

“It was when I was at Rangers. It must have been something on Twitter and a few of the boys picked it up and it’s stuck. I just take it as a joke. A lot of the boys used to laugh about it and had a good joke about it. But nah, Ramos is a great player. Everyone knows that.” – Bates on the “Ramos” nickname

“He’s a great lad who works very, very hard. He’s a good defender, very quick, strong. If he gets the nod, I’m sure he won't let anyone down. He has all the attributes to be a real success story for Scotland over the years” – former Rangers teammate Kenny Miller on Bates’ nascent international career