Schalke are arguably the biggest club never to have won the Bundesliga title, which is an even bigger surprise given the talent the club has boasted in its ranks over the years. bundesliga.com has trawled the annals of the Royal Blues’ rich history to select an all-time XI that is a match for anyone.
In a decade with Schalke, Lehmann left his mark on the club, edging Manuel Neuer out of this team on legacy. A strong character — he once stormed out of a game and travelled home by public transport after being substituted at half-time — the former Germany international is remembered best for being able to have a decisive influence on games, notably saving Ivan Zamarano’s opening spot-kick in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup final shoot-out. Add that to his late header to salvage a point in the Revierderby with Borussia Dortmund in December ’97, and Lehmann’s legend with the Royal Blues is complete.
Watch: Lehmann's top 5 saves!
When Germany won the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Franz Beckenbauer pointed out "the superstar was the team." Still, Der Kaiser highlighted the contribution of Höwedes, who "suprised me the most." The performances of their hero in Brazil would not have stunned any Schalke fan, used to the metronomic consistency of the man who captained their side for six years until his departure for Juventus in summer 2017. Whether he played at right-back, centre-back or even in defensive midfield, Höwedes was as reliable and constant as the support supplied by the Royal Blue faithful. "I go as a player," Höwedes wrote to those sad to see him leave for Turin. "But I stay as a fan."
Watch: Thanks for the memories, Benedikt!
The Brazilian had initially struggled to settle into life during five years at Stuttgart. He had learned German by the time he arrived in Gelsenkirchen, but would have endeared himself to the fans anyway. His passionate performances that allied no-nonsense defending with a surprisingly sharp nose for goal showed he spoke their language. A member of the side that reached the 2005/06 UEFA Cup semi-finals, Bordon came desperately close to becoming the first Schalke captain to lift the Bundesliga title in 2006/07 only for a derby defeat to Dortmund in the season’s penultimate encounter to allow Stuttgart to sneak ahead to claim the Meisterschale.
Not quite a one-club man, but Fichtel no doubt gave the best years — and more — of his career to Schalke. Aged 20 when he joined, he was 43-and-a-half when he pulled on their shirt for the last time in May 1988, making him the oldest player ever to have featured in the Bundesliga. The full-back — nicknamed 'The Fir' — returned to his first love after a four-year spell at Werder Bremen left him pining for a swansong in Gelsenkirchen where he played the last of his 552 Bundesliga matches, putting him currently fourth on the top-flight’s all-time appearances chart.
Born in Ghana, grew up in Germany, a god in Gelsenkirchen, whose aura and achievements brought 60,000 to pay tribute at his testimonial. Incredibly, Asamoah’s career might have been over before he arrived at Schalke when a minor heart problem was diagnosed aged 19. Schalke, like his former club Hannover, bought a defibrilator for Asamoah, who actually later used it to save the life of a coach who suffered a heart attack. He himself — fortunately — never needed it as he became the definition of a fan favourite with his lung-bursting, never-know-when-you’re-beaten displays week in, week out, bringing with them four Bundesliga runners-up finishes and back-to-back DFB Cups. The first African-born Germany international, Asamoah was part of the squad that finished World Cup runners-up in 2002 and third in 2006.
He was only in Gelsenkirchen for two years, but what an impact. Is it any surprise? The legendary Raul, Real Madrid icon, had his pick of clubs when he left the Spanish capital, and he decided to move to Schalke. Some magical moments followed as he shone and made others shine, notably Huntelaar and Julian Draxler. Incredibly, for all the six La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions Leagues he won with Madrid, he still wrote a little bit of personal history with the Royal Blues: their 2010/11 DFB Cup win was the first domestic cup success of Raul’s career.
Watch: Raul's top 5 Bundesliga goals
Could there have been anyone else to guide this team? The Dutchman has collected a commonwealth of clubs during his coaching career, including Stuttgart, Hoffenheim, Hertha Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne, but he has never spent longer at one club — or been more successful — than his first spell at Schalke. The 1996/97 UEFA Cup win he masterminded was the highlight, but had Patrik Andersson not scored for Bayern in the dying throes of the 2000/01 season, Stevens would also have gone down in Schalke history as their first Bundesliga title-winning coach. His second spell was not as fruitful, but did not do anything to dislodge him from the special place he has in Schalke fans’ hearts.