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I’m a lifestyle and football photographer from Belgium currently living in Ghent. I started doing photography with Club Brugge Football Club, where I got to know lots of the young players, such as Ignace van der Brempt.

Ignace signed for Red Bull Salzburg in 2022 before moving to HSV Hamburg on loan at the start of the 2023/24 season. That is what brought me to the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg on a humid Friday evening as I prepared to take in the Hamburger Stadtderby.

When HSV Hamburg takes on great rivals St.Pauli, it is always a significant occasion, with a lot of excitement and tension. Tonight though there was even more at stake. If St Pauli were to defeat HSV, promotion to the Bundesliga in Hamburg’s backyard would be confirmed. This could not be allowed to happen. This was Hamburg’s house. The Volksparkstadion was ready to create a cauldron of chaos.

With kick-off looming, I walked towards the Stellingen train station, where the fans of HSV were gathering in their numbers, walking together in solidarity towards the stadium in a huge corteo. My pre-match preparations consisted of currywurst and beer.  I felt ready for anything.

Hamburg is a big city that breathes football. Germany in general is crazy about football. That was even more evident tonight.

The Volksparkstadion is already impressive and imposing from the outside, and with a capacity of 57,000 and sold out, the venue is the perfect stage for one of the biggest derbies in Germany and maybe even Europe. It is astounding to think that this is a Bundesliga 2 fixture. You could be forgiven for thinking you had arrived at a Cup Final

Ignace had warned me that I wouldn’t believe my eyes but I wasn’t ready for this. Honestly. I’ve never experienced this before in my life.

It is not often that you see two huge tifos at the beginning of the game. The Pirates from St. Pauli seemed to set the away section on fire with a kaleidoscope of colour and HSV’s North stand had a giant hand-painted tifo gliding across the stand with a lot of smoke.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off the fans behind the goal. The amount of fireworks was incredible for 90 minutes straight. It was a huge show. I love to walk around the stadium during the game because I don’t want to limit myself to what happens on the field. Two goals of HSV were disallowed, so there were a lot of emotions to capture in the Volksparkstadion.

In the 85th minute of the match, Robert Glatzel scored the winning goal for HSV. The atmosphere was amazing. It felt like the entire stadium was about to take off. We were launched into ecstasy. It was a feeling like no other. The joy on the faces of the fans and the players is something I will never forget.

That goal kept HSV in the promotion race and prevented St Pauli from winning promotion at the Volksparkstadion. This felt like more than a victory. There was so much importance attached to it and you could feel it throughout the stadium. It was electric.

When the full-time whistle sounded the party truly began. The players celebrated and sang with the fans, saluting each other for giving absolutely everything and more. Those celebrations continued long into the night. It was one wild night in Hamburg that I will never forget.

All of our thanks to the talented gentleman that is Pieter Slembrouck.

To follow Pieter on social media you can click here.

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