Leroy Sane had mixed feelings as he helped Manchester City beat former club Schalke in the Champions League. - © 2019 Getty Images
Leroy Sane had mixed feelings as he helped Manchester City beat former club Schalke in the Champions League. - © 2019 Getty Images

Manchester City's Leroy Sane: "Schalke fans' support gave me goosebumps"


Leroy Sane admitted the Schalke fans gave him "goosebumps" as the Manchester City man made an "emotional" return to the club where he made his name.

Sane came through the Schalke youth academy to become one of European football's hottest properties before he was snapped up by City in 2016.

He broke the hearts of those who once worshipped him at the Veltins Arena with a stunning late free-kick to pull the English Premier League leaders level in the closing stages of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Last 16 tie.

Raheem Sterling then grabbed a winner in added time to give City a 3-2 lead to take into the second leg on 12 March, and Sane admitted it had been hard-earned against a side fuelled by the backing of their passionate followers.

Schalke 'keeper Ralf Fährmann could do nothing to prevent Sane striking a breathtaking equaliser. - 2019 Getty Images

"We knew it wouldn't be an easy game. I also know the stadium, I know the atmosphere here. I know how the fans keep getting behind the team, no matter what game it is and no matter what the mood is. They did this again here and really motivated the side. In the first half, the fans were cheering them so much that I got goosebumps," said the German international, who came off the bench to replace opening goalscorer Sergio Aguero in the second half.

Matondo shirt swap

"Of course, it was very emotional for me to come back to Schalke, here in my old home where everything started for me. I was really happy to play in this stadium again and in front of these fans. There's always a great atmosphere here."

Watched by family and friends, Sane, who was given a warm reception on his return to Gelsenkirchen, was central to City — down to ten men after Nicolas Otamendi had been sent off — overturning the advantage Nabil Bentaleb's two first-half penalties had given the hosts.

Salif Sane (l.) made sure Bernardo Silva & Co. had to work hard for their win. - AFP/Getty Images

As good as his goal was, the 23-year-old, who revealed he had swapped shirts with Schalke's new signing, ex-City youngster Rabbi Matondo, could not get as emotional as he usually might have as his strike helped extinguish an old flame just as it gave a spark of life to his new one.

"Of course, I was a bit happy, especially about our win, but I couldn't really cheer. It also hurts a bit to score against my old love, especially because Schalke played so well. They made it very difficult for us, they really played a very good game. But we never gave up and kept on fighting," said Sane, who expects Domenico Tedesco's men to not give him and his teammates a smooth ride into the last eight.

"Definitely! It won't be easy for us. We saw how things can play out after this first game. Schalke made things very difficult for us with their defensive work. Everything is still open. I assume the second leg will be difficult too."