The central defender moved to the German side, who were relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time in 55 years, after growing tired of Rangers stalling on a new contract offer.
Rangers were unhappy at Bates when the move was announced just before the Scottish Cup semi-final with Celtic in April. Interim manager Graeme Murty insisted Bates’ move was financially motivated.
He said at the time: “Let’s not beat around the bush, David has gone for more money than we can offer him and he could be playing in Bundesliga II next year. He is going for more money than we can give him here. That is the reality of it. So take emotion out of the situation, take the fact he is a Rangers supporter out of the situation, there is a load of money on the table. I am disappointed more than surprised that he hasn’t accepted it.”
But Bates, who made his Scotland U21 debut in the 3-0 European Championship qualifier win against Andorra on Thursday and will line up for Scot Gemmill’s side against Holland tomorrow in Doetinchem, was furious at the allegation of greed and was keen to explain just why he moved to Hamburg.
He said: “What got said was complete lies to be honest. It was never about the money or stuff like that. It was all about feeling appreciation from a club and the way Hamburg went about it, they came over and watched my games, they were always talking. They showed how much they wanted me to go to Hamburg. I’d started playing a lot more in January with Rangers so I thought maybe they might have showed a bit more interest. But it never really happened. When I was at Rangers I asked them for a contract for a long time and never got one.
“Hamburg were very interested and that was for me the most important part – how much they wanted me to go over. The way they went about it was so much better than everyone else so it felt like the love I was wanting.
“It was always going to be the right decision.”
Bates insists he has no regrets about moving to Germany, even though Hamburg were relegated and Rangers’ fortunes have been transformed under Steven Gerrard.
He said: “I’m more than happy. Rangers are a big club and were always going to get big players in and a big manager. Steven Gerrard has done great since he’s come in. I’ve watched every game, I’ve still got Rangers TV and he’s done great and made some good signings. The club is definitely on the way back up.
“But for me, the league I’m in at Hamburg is the highest I’ve played at by far. A lot of the players are technically very good and it’s the highest level for me. And the club is massive. Overall over there it’s a higher level. You see teams like Cologne, they’ve still got the left-back that is a starter for Germany, Jonas Hector. That’s the type of players that are still in the second league.
“I’ve always said I was looking to go abroad and try something different and now I’m there I’m enjoying it.”
With three games left to play, Gemmill’s side face a must-win game in Doetinchem. The Scots sit third in Group 4, one point behind Holland and six behind leaders England, and need to beat the hosts to keep alive their hopes of landing a play-off spot.