Gelsenkirchen - Sidney Sam was one of the new faces in Gelsenkirchen when FC Schalke 04 commenced pre-season training earlier this week.
Following his summer move from Bayer 04 Leverkusen, he has been getting to know his new team-mates and environment, telling schalke04.de how well he has settled in, how he feels and how he's been spending the summer months.
Schalke04.de: Sidney Sam, how have you found your first few days at Schalke?
Sam: Really good. I’ve been made to feel very welcome by the whole club and already feel at home. I’m really happy to be here and that things are slowly getting underway. Obviously, not all the players are back yet, but the guys who are here have really got stuck in over the first few days. It just feels good to be able to play football here.
Schalke04.de: Have you noticed any differences here compared to your previous clubs?
Sam: Well, I haven’t been here very long, but what you do notice straight away is that there are a lot of fans at the training sessions. It’s not something I’ve experienced to this degree before. The supporters have made me feel very welcome too. Schalke on the whole are on a higher level compared to the clubs that I have played for previously.
Schalke04.de: You know Fabian Giefer and assistant manager Peter Hermann from your time at Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Are there any other familiar faces in your new team?
Sam: Actually, I pretty much know everyone. We've faced each other on numerous occasions. I played with Dennis Aogo at Hamburger SV and I've known Benedikt Höwedes since my days as a youth player - there are a few players that fall into that category. So in that respect, it’s not a major adjustment for me.
Schalke04.de: What are your goals with the Royal Blues?
Sam: We want to be near the top of the league again this year, challenging for the Champions League places. I also want to have some success with the team in the Champions League. We have some great players and there’s a lot of quality in the team. I’m optimistic that it will be a good season. On a personal level, I'll try to play an important role and give everything for the club. I want to win a trophy with Schalke at some stage. That's my biggest goal.
Schalke04.de: Which position do you feel most comfortable in?
Sam: Definitely in midfield. On the right, on the left or in the middle - I don’t really mind. I feel comfortable anywhere in midfield.
Schalke04.de: You missed quite a few games through injury last season. How fit are you feeling?
Sam: I don’t have any complaints and I'm physically fit. I’m not worrying about any possible injuries. It’s just something that happens every now and again. I will do all I can to stay fit. I carried out an intensive fitness programme during the summer break. Obviously, it’s not always nice to have to train on your days off, but in the end, it can only do you good.
Schalke04.de: You'll wear the number 18 at Schalke, just as you did at your former club Leverkusen. Does the number have a special meaning for you?
Sam: I’ve worn the number 18 for quite a few years now. It just happened to be available again, that’s why I took it. My favourite number is actually eight - that’s the number I used to wear at 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Although there’s also an eight in the number 18 (laughs).