Interview: Hibs' Adam Bogdan on brewing craft lager and empathy with Zdenek Zlamal
It’s also been useful while waiting to taste an Edinburgh derby he’s heard so much about. The season is several months old. The nights have drawn in. Bogdan’s been as far away as Greece, also to Celtic Park, performing admirably on both occasions, but not yet Tynecastle. The on-loan Liverpool keeper is preparing to feel the hot breath of the home supporters on the back of his neck tonight.
“It is steep, narrow,” he says. “I like that. Perhaps more if I was a spectator! Sometimes it’s better if there is a slight distance. Murrayfield looked the opposite extreme [to Tynecastle]. Celtic Park was amazing. You have some privacy. Sometimes when you are at Burnley for example, they are right behind you. You try to stay focused before the game and reflect on what it was like afterwards. Then I can call my father and say, ‘wow, it was amazing!’ ”
This is the father he has just dropped off at the airport after his parents’ visit to Edinburgh. The trip was slightly spoiled by the fact Hibs’ scheduled league game with Rangers was postponed due to the Betfred Cup semi-finals. Bogdan watched the first tie, between Celtic and Hearts, at home on television.
Another quality helping gain acceptance into the goalkeepers’ union is empathy. Bogdan saw his likely opposite number this evening, Zdenek Zlamal, pictured, endure a horror moment on Sunday when he fumbled Ryan Christie’s shot and James Forrest put away the rebound to double Celtic’s lead.
Bogdan has felt his pain. His league debut for Liverpool was wrecked by a handling mistake leading to the first goal in a 3-0 defeat by Watford.
“I guess you try to not let it affect you,” says Bogdan, 31. “This is another game for him to bounce back. Both teams have played their last game v Celtic and been beaten, so this is a chance to bounce back and come out as victors. But I think he had a brilliant game, some unbelievable saves. He was a bit unlucky with the second goal. The co-commentator was a bit harsh. He was blaming him. But I thought it rook a slight deflection. It could easily have been much worse for Hearts.
“You recognise yourself, you have been in that situation,” he adds. “There are times when you pull out saves and keep the score down and equally there are times you don’t and it goes equally badly. You have to take the positives out of the game – I think there were still plenty for ‘Bobby’.”
Bogdan refers to Zlamal using the nickname the Hearts keeper inherited from his goalkeeping uncle, whose hair arrangement apparently matched that of Bobby Charlton. They live near each other in flats overlooking the Meadows in Edinburgh. It’s not unknown for them to go for a coffee together; two occupiers of a lonely position making their way in an unfamiliar city together.
A native of Budapest, Bogdan does feel at home in Edinburgh – more so, for example, than when he lived in Manchester, during an eight-year stay at Bolton Wanderers.
“You didn’t necessarily have all the cultural aspects,” he says. “Here is more my style. You walk around, and you would not think I was one of the goalkeepers for a main club in the city. Someone has maybe recognised me in the street: ‘C’mon Hibs!’ But it is not like you are stopping at a red light and they will say something nasty to you. I enjoy this where you are able to live somewhere and football is only one part of life. But then you go to Easter Road, just a mile or two away, and you have 15-16,000. Amazing!”
With every passing week he feels more like a Hibs player and yet he is not a Hibs player as such. It’s Liverpool to whom he remains tied, for the time being. With his contract due to expire this summer, he can claim to be at one of the biggest clubs in the world for just a few months longer. It’s possible to sense the thrill has already gone. “I never felt the way I feel here with [Neil] Lennon for example,” he says. Bogdan was bought by Brendan Rodgers, pictured, but the manager left soon afterwards and so could not help guide the keeper through a tricky patch at Anfield.
Bogdan was dropped to third choice after Jurgen Klopp, Rodgers’ successor, recalled Danny Ward from Aberdeen. “When Danny Ward came back I did not really know until the next day,” he says. Liverpool goalkeeper coach John Achterberg keeps in touch and a physio sends an e-mail “every now and again”. But contact appears fleeting from a club where the anthem is You’ll Never Walk Alone.
“In my head unless some crazy thing happens the contract will run out,” says Bogdan. “I am still a Liverpool player but it is running out. I am considering myself more a Hibs player. “
He could have remained at Anfield as a third choice but he wanted to play. “Wigan came in,” he recalls. “I accepted it. But maybe it was not the right decision. They trained at Bolton’s training ground at the time – it was almost like travelling back in time. It was weird. It was maybe a bit of a rushed decision but I wanted to play.”
And he did before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in a game v Barnsley in 2016. The recovery process was arduous. He sometimes wondered if he would ever play again, hence the craft lager venture he embarked on with his brother, Botond. One of the beers is called Red Viking, with a nod to Bogdan’s fiery hair and beard and his Scandinavian looks. He’s yet to find a cost effective way to export it from Budapest.
It might be a while before Hibs fans are able to toast Bogdan with a pint of his own product in the bars of Easter Road. The brothers are considering launching a new dark lager. Like a pint of porter, Bogdan knows he will benefit from being allowed to settle. Hopefully, it seems, this can be at Hibs.
“I am in a very good situation now,” he says. “Having been out so long with my knee, I was not sure if I was going to play another game of football. It was not getting better.
“It kept producing fluid. It was a matter of making sure it got stronger. My daughter, Mila, is three, but for the last two years, since she was one, I could not really run with her or do anything with her. So for me to run around with her in the Meadows has been amazing.”