Gelsenkirchen - He missed a penalty, scored the winning goal and broke a corner flag. It was a strange recipe for success, but one that worked for FC Schalke 04 striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the 2-1 win over 1. FSV Mainz 05.
However, talking to the assembled press in the catacombs of the Veltins Arena after the victory, the Dutch veteran preferred to draw attention to the performance of the entire team and had words of praise for a side that boasted an average age of just over 25.
Question: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, you broke the corner flag with your celebration - is there anything else you want to take as a souvenir to remember this game by?
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: (Laughing.) Of course, I’ll be taking that [the corner flag] home with me to use it as a toothpick! In all seriousness, I will be taking it back but unfortunately it didn't survive this time - usually the flag just bounces back up when you bash into it! In this case, however, I landed right on top of it, so it just ended up broken lying on the floor.
'I never give up'
Question: And at the end, you almost scored from 60 metres out when the Mainz keeper [Loris Karius] went forward…
Huntelaar: That was close, actually. It's a shame that it didn't go in because I saw that the keeper was out and so had a go.
Question: What went through your mind when you missed a penalty after only four minutes?
Huntelaar: Your mind can be your worst enemy [at times like that]. I lost my head a little bit, but managed to get myself back under control. That’s always one of the best feelings in football.
Question: The coach confirmed, however, that you won't be first choice for taking penalties any more.
Huntelaar: (Laughing.) We’ll have to discuss that. I never give up and it was fine in training last week, but unfortunately it wasn't the same at the weekend. It's up to the coach to decide.
'Everything went well'
Question: Straight after missing the penalty, you changed your shirt. Did that change of shirt bring a change of luck?
Huntelaar: (Laughing.) No no, it wasn't that - I had to change my shirt as it was ripped.
Question: For long periods against Mainz, Schalke were very forward-thinking. There was lots of attacking thrust and lots of football played out wide, did you enjoy that?
Huntelaar: It was really good fun, everything went well. We intended to play in an attacking style and put lots of pressure on from the word go. We played with a lot of heart and passion and the fans recognised that with their songs and their applause. It's great that we managed to win again because we certainly didn’t want to draw our second game running at home.
Question: Did you miss Julian Draxler?
Huntelaar: Jule [Julian Draxler] is a fantastic player, but it’s not just about one player on the field – we have 11 when out there and seven more on the bench. We have a big squad, but of course you're going to miss a player like Jule: he has such potential. He decided to leave, though, which we have to accept and move on.
'We know we can go far'
Question: With seven games in the next 21 days, how important was this victory from a mental point of view?
Huntelaar: The victory was hugely important. We knew that after Matchday 4 we could either be in fifth place or 14th. Of course, when you're in fifth, things become a lot easier. You see in the Bundesliga every year that there are always teams struggling who you don’t expect and it becomes harder and harder to get out of that sort of spiral. For that reason alone, it's even more important to start well.
Question: Over the last few seasons, Schalke have been playing in the UEFA Champions League, but this Thursday you face APOEL FC in Nicosia in the UEFA Europa League. How high is the motivation?
Huntelaar: The motivation is always high. If you're playing in Europe, it means you've earned it over the course of a whole season. We finally managed to get there after a disappointing year last time out, so that’s something to be pleased about. Of course, we’d rather be in the Champions League, but it's not easy to qualify for that in Germany. This season again, it won't be easy to finish in the top four.
Question: What aims do Schalke have for the Europa League?
Huntelaar: First things first, we want to get out of the group and everything has to go well for that to happen. We have to take it step by step but we know we can go far. We showed three years ago when we got the quarter-finals that we're capable of doing it in the Europa League and as a minimum we want to do that again. We have to qualify from the group first and after that we can start looking further ahead.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Gelsenkirchen.