bundesliga

Schalke Fanzone: Getting to know the Bundesliga's talent mine in Gelsenkirchen

A giant of German football forged in the “city of a thousand fires”, Schalke can lay claim to some of the most passionate fans and one of the most intense rivalries in the game. Let bundesliga.com give you the lowdown on a club steeped in tradition.

History

A club with a proud working-class heritage, Schalke are one of Germany’s best-supported sides and home to some of the country’s most passionate and loyal supporters. Their historical significance is not in doubt – the Gelsenkirchen club were four-time German champions in the 1930s and six times overall – though success has been harder to come by in recent decades.

The UEFA Cup win of 1997 remains one of the club’s greatest triumphs and DFB Cup wins in 2001, 2002 and 2011 have swelled their trophy cabinet further. However, a Bundesliga title still eludes them and their last national championship win was back in 1958. Indeed the pursuit of a maiden Bundesliga triumph has become an obsession among the supporters, even more so since the infamous final day of the 2000/01 season, where they were all but champions until Bayern Munich’s Patrik Andersson scored an injury-time winner at Hamburg. With Schalke celebrations cut short, the atmosphere quickly turned to shock and disbelief. The events earned the Royal Blues (named for their club colours) the nickname "champions of the heart".

Enigmatic coach Jürgen Klopp (2nd l.) led Dortmund through one of their most successful periods, including back-to-back Bundesliga titles and first domestic double. - imago/Uwe Kraft

Honours

7x German champions (1934, 1935, 1937, 1940, 1942, 1958)
5x DFB Cup (1937, 1972, 2001, 2002, 2011)
1x German Supercup (2011)
1x German League Cup (2005)
1x UEFA Cup (1997)
2x UEFA Intertoto Cup (2003, 2004)

Coach

Former player David Wagner is the new man in the Gelsenkirchen dugout for 2019/20. He arrives at Schalke at a time where the club is looking to rebuild after a disastrous 2018/19 campaign that saw them fighting against relegation for much of the year. Having learned the trade alongside former Mainz teammate Jürgen Klopp while at Borussia Dortmund, the Germany-born former USA international enjoyed great success in charge of Huddersfield Town in England. A member of Schalke’s 1997 UEFA Cup-winning squad, Wagner’s appointment is aimed at reigniting the forges within Gelsenkirchen.

David Wagner is the coach intended to bring smiles back to Schalke faces in 2019/20. - imago images / Team 2

Star man

The time of Weston McKennie will come at Schalke with the talented 20-year-old in search of a position to truly call his own, but in the meantime Royal Blue hopes have fallen on the shoulders of Daniel Caligiuri. The full/wing-back was Schalke’s top scorer in 2018/19 with seven Bundesliga goals, pushing them on to safety. Yet he will forever remain in Gelsenkirchen folklore for his role in the 4-2 Revierderby win at arch-rivals Dortmund, converting a penalty and free-kick to all but end Borussia’s title ambitions.

Watch: Caligiuri’s brace hands Schalke the derby spoils

Last season

The 2018/19 campaign was a stark contrast to the previous year’s euphoric second-place finish. The Royal Blues lost their opening five Bundesliga matches, meaning they were always behind the eight ball and chasing the rest. Despite reaching the UEFA Champions League last 16, Domenico Tedesco was dismissed in March with the club 14th. Huub Stevens took over as caretaker until the end of the season to see the club to safety.

The stadium

One of Germany’s most modern stadia and, consequently, one of its most atmospheric, the Veltins-Arena is another must-see venue if you find yourself in the Ruhr region and have an afternoon to spare. With a total capacity of 62,271 and a stadium design that locks in sound to optimise the noise levels, live football at the Veltins-Arena is a unique experience.

Add to that the arena’s retractable pitch (it is often used for music concerts) and roof, and four-screen video cube to ensure every fan has a fantastic view of the pitch itself and the replays, and you have a stadium that is the envy of clubs around the world. The Veltins-Arena played host to five matches at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, as well as the 2004 Champions League final.

Watch: Inside the hallowed halls of the Veltina-Arena

The city

While the material influence of the coal-mining industry on Gelsenkirchen has long since waned, its legacy is one and indivisible with the city and its surrounding areas. Old refineries have been re-moulded into event halls and ice-skating rinks, and cycle paths now line the roads where rail tracks once led.

In the north of the city, amid a designated lowland nature reserve set with 300-year-old oak trees, lies Haus Lüttinghoff, a moated castle. First documented in 1308, it is the city's oldest historic monument and is well worth a visit. Further towards the city centre you can find the neo-gothic church of Saint Urban, built relatively recently in 1893, partially damaged in World War II and rebuilt in its modern-day grandeur.

Football is king in Gelsenkirchen, however, and its key attraction is its world-famous arena. Being a young city, Gelsenkirchen does not have the traditional centuries-old bars or beer halls one might find in nearby Cologne, Dusseldorf or even Dortmund. It has its own football culture, however, and bars which reflect it: The Café Centrale near the main railway station is one of the popular meeting places for fans.

Getting there

The closest major international airport is Dusseldorf, which is the third largest in Germany with regular low-cost flights around Europe, as well regular flights to New York and beyond. Once you’ve landed, getting to Gelsenkirchen could hardly be simpler, with regular train services from the airport’s station taking passengers to Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof in just 35-40 minutes.

For more options, Cologne-Bonn Airport is a further 30 minutes train ride away, while Frankfurt Airport – the largest in Germany with numerous daily flights to North America – is roughly two hours away with regular high-speed train services from the airport to Dusseldorf and nearby Essen and Dortmund.

The Veltins-Arena is easily reached from the main station on the 302 tram line. - DFL

Getting to the Veltins-Arena

Situated in the north of the city, the stadium is a mere 16-minute ride on the 302 tram from the Hauptbahnhof (towards Gelsenkirchen-Buer), and is just 40 minutes by car from Dusseldorf airport.

Buying tickets

Tickets can still be bought via the official club website HERE.

Watch on TV

If you can’t make it to the stadium, Bundesliga matches are broadcast around the world. FOX Sports and Univision provide coverage in the United States, while BT Sports are the exclusive broadcaster in the United Kingdom. In Germany, Sky Sports show the majority of matches, with Eurosport hosting one match per week.

The Schalke home kit for 2019/20 - FC Schalke 04

Buying the kit

You can get your own Schalke jersey from the official club shop.