No club exemplifies the link between football teams and their local communities in Germany more than Schalke. Schalke has developed into one of Germany’s best-supported and most successful clubs thanks to the emotional support of a community proud of its coal-mining history and traditions. We examine ten things about the Royal Blues that you should know:
The People’s Champions
In 2001, Schalke won the Bundesliga for the first time for four blissful minutes. The championship was abruptly and cruelly taken away from them when Patrik Andersson’s goal for Bayern Munich at Hamburg in the last seconds of the season’s final game secured the Bavarians’ victory and dropped Schalke to second place by one point. The Schalke team of that year has gone down in club history. Despite losing the most exciting title fight in history, it has even gained the moniker “Meister der Herzen” – The People’s Champions ” from the rest of German football.
Since 1924, Royal Blue
The first time FC Schalke 04 existed as a sporting organisation was when it was established as Westphalia Schalke on May 4, 1904 (hence the 04 in the club’s name). Their initial uniform was red and yellow. However, after several name changes and mergers with other sports organisations, Schalke’s football division broke away in 1924 to find the organisation that bears its current name. They did away with their previous colours and started with a blue and white strip, later becoming known as the Royal Blues.
A renowned institute, Schalke
Few clubs have a better track record than Schalke when it comes to allowing young players to shine in the Bundesliga than German clubs. Numerous famous names that have emerged since the turn of the century have studied at the Royal Blues Academy, often known as Die Knappenschmiede. Few Schalke academy graduates have achieved the game’s highest levels, although names like Manuel Neuer, Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler, Leroy Sane, and former centre-back Benedikt Höwedes come to mind.
History of coal mining Schalke
The term “Die Knappen,” which is an old German term for miners, was given to Schalke at the same time that the nickname “Royal Blue” became famous because of the team’s close ties to the local mine workers in Gelsenkirchen, who served as both its fan base and playing staff. Before becoming a full-time member of Schalke, Ernst Kuzorra—possibly the club’s most well-known player and the person whose name appears on the club’s address—worked as a colliery worker.
Milan for one night
Three-quarters of a century after Kuzorra’s peak, Schalke is poised to win its first-ever European championship. The Royal Blues, under Huub Stevens, defeated Valencia and Tenerife to advance to the 1997 UEFA Cup final, where they faced Italian powerhouse Inter Milan. However, four out of four successful penalties and a save from custodian Jens Lehmann in the shootout were enough to win the trophy, secure Stevens’ status as the club’s ‘Jahrhunderttrainer’ – Coach of the Century – and give that group of players the nickname ‘Eurofighter’ that endures to this day. Due to a Marc goal, they won the opening leg 1-0 Wilmots goal and lost the second leg at the San Siro by the same.
In addition to producing some of the best goalkeepers in the world, Schalke is among the best at advancing bright young players into the first team. In this regard, Neuer is undoubtedly their most well-known and prosperous alumnus, but he is by no means an outlier. Lehmann, who spent ten years with the club between 1988 and 1998 and made 274 competitive games, advanced through the ranks before him. After Neuer, Ralf Fährmann served as the team’s primary keeper for eight years before Alexander Nübel, the current captain, replaced him.
Up the road competitors of Ruhr
Of course, 1997 was also the year that Borussia Dortmund, a different German team, experienced success in Europe by taking home the UEFA Champions League. Indeed, that campaign stands out as a pivotal period in the histories of both organisations, so it is appropriate that Schalke and Dortmund are engaged in what is undoubtedly the most intense rivalry in football despite being separated by 25 miles of autobahn.
The fixture that supporters look forward to the most is the Revierderby, as their jousts are known worldwide as one of the game’s most thrilling spectacles. You become a lifetime hero if you score in a derby game. Just ask Naldo, who scored the game-winning goal in the most bizarre Revierderby in history, or Shinji Kagawa, who scored his first-ever Bundesliga goal against Schalke.
The comeback to end all comebacks: BVB 4–4 Schalke
The location is Signal Iduna Park, and the event is Matchday 13’s match between Dortmund and Schalke. With a 4-0 lead after one-quarter of the game, Borussia appeared to end any rumours that problems were developing under new coach Peter Bosz. The second half was when the world appeared to spin out of control. The most incredible comeback in Bundesliga history was completed by Naldo, who came up and crashed in a header as time expired for Schalke after pulling one back, then another, then another, to trail 4-3.
Royal blue, white, and red
A young man who recently graduated from a renowned academy is making an impression on the first team. One of the club’s most valuable assets is the USA international Weston McKennie, who joined the academy in 2016. After working with Domenico Tedesco in the junior system, McKennie successfully transitioned to the first squad. The Texas native joins a growing list of Americans who have played for the club, including current head coach David Wagner, Haji Wright, Jermaine Jones, Chad Deering, and Tom Dooley.
An envious venue Schalke
The Parkstadion, Schalke’s longtime home, is warmly remembered by the supporters, but the Veltins Arena, which took its place, is one of the best venues in the world. It is atmospheric, cutting-edge, and boasts a fully retractable field that enables usage as a concert venue without harming the turf. The ground also served as the location for the 2004 Champions League final and five 2006 FIFA World Cup games. Schalke fans have a fantastic stadium to call home, and because of their noise, it is one of the most intimidating venues in the division.
Schalke best exemplifies the relationship between German football clubs and their local communities. Thanks to the ardent support of a city proud of its coal-mining history and traditions, Schalke has become one of Germany’s best-supported and most successful clubs.