Gelsenkirchen - Having already scored three goals in the Bundesliga this season, FC Schalke 04 starlet Leroy Sane opened his UEFA Europa League account for the campaign with a superb equaliser against AC Sparta Praha on Thursday.
The Royal Blues were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw against the Czech outfit, but Sane was far from downhearted after the match at the Veltins-Arena. Addressing the media at full-time, the 19-year-old spoke about Schalke's newfound self-belief under Andre Breitenreiter and Sunday's highly-anticipated Bundesliga clash with Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Question: Leroy Sane, you scored another lovely goal against Prague, but are you satisfied with Thursday’s result?
Leroy Sane: We’re happy with the 2-2 draw. We’ve come away with a point at least, but we could have had more. We can be satisfied with the point, though. We’re still top of the group and that’s where we want to stay.
'I trust my instinct'
Question: What did you make of the game and why weren’t Schalke able to record their third victory in this season’s competition?
Sane: We obviously wanted to win, but we weren’t able to do the job we set out to do. We started very well, made it 1-0 and tried to put even more pressure on the opposition. After that, though, we didn’t have as much control on proceedings. It’s normal for the opposition to create chances and Sparta made the most of two of their opportunities. We improved towards the end and after our equaliser we even had chances to win the match.
Question: The head coach made a few changes, meaning you had to settle for a place on the bench. Presumably you’d have preferred to start the match?
Sane: Of course, every player wants to be in the starting XI. The coach and I had already agreed that I’d be on the bench, though, and I’m fine with starting as a sub from time to time. I’d played a lot of games before this one, sometimes even the full 90 minutes. It was definitely the right decision to start the game with me on the bench.
Question: It didn’t stop you from getting on the scoresheet, though. You arrived from deep, then ran onto a pass. It’s not the first time that this method has proved effective…
Sane: It’s true, we have practiced it. The coach always emphasises that the wide players or strikers should come from deep and create space with intelligent runs. I saw the space, Franco [Di Santo] played a great ball and that was it.
'We're all looking forward to Gladbach'
Question: What goes through your mind when you round the opposition goalkeeper with such ease?
Sane: (laughs) I don’t really think about it. I just trust my instinct. It’s worked every time so far!
Question: After the last few games your confidence must be sky-high…
Sane: Those games have given us a lot of self-belief. It’s also allowed us to gel even more as a team. Even if we go behind in games, we always believe we can recover. We never give up and always keep going.
Question: That self-belief might come in handy in the coming days when you take on Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga and in the DFB Cup…
Sane: Gladbach are on a great run at the moment. They’re very dangerous going forward and we’ll have to be on our toes. They're a tough nut to crack, but we’re all looking forward to the game. We’ll prepare well and I’m sure that we’ll get a positive result.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Gelsenkirchen