Suat Serdar (c.) has emerged as a leader for Schalke this season with seven goals from midfield. - © DFL
Suat Serdar (c.) has emerged as a leader for Schalke this season with seven goals from midfield. - © DFL

Suat Serdar on lockdown, Schalke's season so far and having key players back

Suat Serdar was arguably Schalke's best player before the coronavirus-enforced break in play, scoring seven goals from midfield. caught up with the Germany international to get his thoughts with a comeback looming… Suat Serdar, how are you? Have you been able to stay fit and keep training at home?

Suat Serdar: “Yeah, we’ve been sent exercise regimes by the club, which we’ve done regularly every day at home. I’ve also been playing with a ball a bit, as much as I’m able to. That’s how we’ve been keeping fit as a team. I have a terrace which is a bit bigger. There, I’ve put some cones on the floor and done some dribbling so I can get used to the ball again.” And is everyone safe and well at your end?

Serdar: “I feel good. I’m fine, I’m not ill. My family is also well. I’ve been staying at home and it was my birthday during this time but I couldn’t really celebrate. I was just at home, watched lots of films, played PlayStation and that was it. I ate a lot of course! I wasn’t able to do much. I was bored and watched all of Prison Break. Then, I watched the rest of Money Heist as the new season came out. So far, I’ve watched pretty much all of the stuff on Netflix and at the moment I’m playing PlayStation!”

Watch: Skill drills with Serdar! Are there things which you always wanted to do and have now got around to?

Serdar: “I’ve started cooking with my girlfriend! She’s helped me a bit. I feel I was more of a problem than a help, but I did my best. Otherwise, I’ve not done much else while at home! The favourite dish I’ve cooked… we tried to bake a cheesecake. The first two didn’t go to plan but the third did. Aside from that, we’ve cooked a lot of curry, chicken and vegetables.” What form is training currently taking?

Serdar: “The groups are mixed up every week. There are groups of six or so. We have to always remain two metres apart. That means a lot of passing drills and shooting. A lot of running exercises too! Yeah, unfortunately there are no 50-50s allowed. Therefore, we do running drills instead of intensive small matches. I like going in for a challenge and I miss it a bit. I hope soon we’ll be able to get back to be able to go for duels.” How is the injury list looking?

Serdar: “As you might read in the newspapers, Salif [Sane] and Cali [Daniel Caligiuri] are already training with us once again and are on the right path. Ozan [Kabak] has made a lot of progress. I think he’s already doing running exercises. Omar [Mascarell] is running already I think. The break has done us good as a team. Some players are back and that pleases me as a teammate. The pause has done us good as we have a lot of injured players back who can help the team again. You could say the break has been good for us in that way.”

Salif Sane (l.) is back in training, much to Serdar's (r.) relief. - imago images / Team 2 What did you expect from the rest of the season?

Serdar: “I believe there are nine games or so remaining. We’ll obviously give every game our all and we’re hoping to reach the Europa League. To do that, we’re going to have to give everything. We’ve got matches against close competitors like Freiburg and Wolfsburg which could be vital games for us to play in Europe next season.” How would you sum up your time at Schalke since arriving from Mainz in 2018? 

Serdar: “Well, the first year was very difficult for me which I’ve said many times before. But in the summer, I had a new start. I had to take over the position in the centre to help out the team because I know I’m capable of it and thankfully I was able to do so in the first half of the season. The second half of the season hasn’t started quite as well for me. That was my goal before the start of the season: to have a leading role in central midfield and I’ve achieved that. Unfortunately, I had a toe injury recently which set me back a bit so I wasn’t able to have much of an impact. Now, I’ve rejuvenated myself and am back to full fitness.” What were the high points of the season so far for you?

Serdar: “I enjoyed the entire first half of the season enormously. In particular, the game in Leipzig where we won 3-1. I didn’t score but the way the team played was fantastic. The celebrations with the fans afterwards are hard to put into words. To play in such games is a great feeling.”

Watch: Highlights of Schalke's 3-1 win over RB Leipzig in September What have you missed the most in the last few weeks?

Serdar: “I’ve missed the togetherness. I enjoy when we’re together and having fun. Of course, it’s still fun in the smaller groups but I prefer it when we’re all together and are able to have even more of a laugh. I’ve missed the big games with challenges flying in. That’s what I’ve missed the most.” How have you stayed in contact?

Serdar: “We message one another now and then. We FaceTime each other to see how we’re getting on. Sometimes we play PlayStation together. I’m not really a FIFA guy. I prefer Call Of Duty and enjoy playing that with Nassim [Boujellab] a lot. That’s fun.”

Watch: Boujellab scored one of the best goals in the recent Bundesliga Home Challenge! Things are going to be different in the near future. What are you expecting when you come back?

Serdar: “I think every game will be different. We won’t have the fans behind us. I’ve never experienced that. It’ll be new and I can’t really imagine how it’ll be. I know it’ll be different as they always push us in the 70th minute and give us energy. We won’t have that anymore and that we’ll have to find new ways to get that final push in games for the fans watching on TV. I think the excitement is there more than ever for the team, though. We’ve done some “cyber” training and seen each other now and then but seeing each other in the flesh is much better. I think it’ll bring us all together and I think, after the break, we’ll treasure daily training with one another and being with each other every day. I think the things we took for granted before will be what we’ll appreciate the most.”