It was fitting one of Schalke's best players this season, Naldo, stepped up to decide one of the club's biggest games, the veteran defender hammering home a stunning free-kick to secure an unassailable 2-0 lead for the Royal Blues against fierce local rivals Borussia Dortmund.
Following another near-flawless display in which he won an impressive 89 per cent of his challenges, Naldo's rocket of a free-kick nine minutes from time was the cue for a collective outpouring of ecstasy at the Veltins Arena.
Watch: Naldo reflects on his fine free-kick against Dortmund
Having clinched Schalke's first derby win since 2014 with his seventh goal of the season — a Bundesliga-high for a defender this season — the Brazilian centre-back could barely contain his delight at helping his club take a major step towards claiming runners-up spot behind champions Bayern Munich.
Question: Naldo, how does it feel to beat Dortmund in the derby?
Naldo: I'm absolutely delighted; I feel like a child again. I'm particularly pleased for the fans. We know what this win means for everyone connected to Schalke, and we know what the fans demand in a derby. They want to see us fight on the field. We did that and Dortmund hardly had a chance. The team did outstandingly, every last player, and we were switched on for almost the entire 90 minutes.
Question: Let's talk about your free-kick, absolutely hammered into the Dortmund goal...
Naldo: Because it's so far out, you have to hit it with real power. Obviously, I'm delighted that I've finally scored from a free-kick. I caught it perfectly, and that made it tough for the keeper. My last goal from a free-kick came against Bayern last season - we don't get as many nowadays unfortunately, usually we get penalties!
Watch: Naldo's free-kick and highlights from the derby win!
Question: This time your free-kick sealed the deal and made it 2-0 after your goal against Dortmund earlier this season made it 4-4 in injury time. Are goals against BVB particularly special?
Naldo: Yes, goals against Dortmund are always special, particularly when you're a Schalke player. What really pleases me, though, is winning the derby at home. That we won and I chipped in with a free-kick – my seventh goal this season – is quality. Life goes on, though – whether it's a good or a bad game, I always keep my feet on the ground. We'll analyse this one now and see what we need to improve on Wednesday [in the DFB Cup semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt].
Question: You're up to seven goals now in the Bundesliga. Are you chasing Schalke top-scorer Guido Burgstaller?
Naldo: That won't be easy! Guido's got 10 goals this season, and the most important thing for me is to think defensively. That's my main role. If the chance comes along to score a goal, though, then of course I'll try to help the team by doing so. I think I scored seven goals for Wolfsburg one season, and that was the year we won the DFB Cup – that's got to be a good omen!
Question: There were pretty wild celebrations after the game, and Domenico Tedesco even went into the Nordkurve with the fans...
Naldo: The fans know just how important the coach is. From the day he arrived, we all had the feeling that he was a perfect fit for Schalke. Usually he's not the sort of character to celebrate wildly in public, but a first win in the derby since 2014 is a good enough reason. We were deserved winners, and the coach was a big part of that. The fans value that.
Question: Although the coach is still wary of saying it in public, qualification for the UEFA Champions League is pretty much secured now, isn't it?
Naldo: I'm always cautious. Slowly, though, our dream of being back in the Champions League is coming true. Winning the derby was important for the table, because Bayer Leverkusen also won. We're now eight points clear of fifth place, and although the coach is also cautious, it's looking very good with only four games to go.
Question: On Wednesday, you've got the DFB Cup semi-final against Frankfurt: there can't be much to improve on ahead of that one?
Naldo: There won't be too much to change. If we start with the same mentality and aggressive approach as we did in the derby, then anyone would find it tough.
Watch: Naldo scored in the last minute when Schalke faced Eintracht in the Bundesliga in December...
Question: So the DFB Cup final is the aim...
Naldo: We absolutely want to get to Berlin. If we can repeat this performance on Wednesday, then we'll be able to, as well. We need to stay focussed on our performance, but it'll be tough: Frankfurt are very good defensively and an excellent counter-attacking side. They reached the cup final last year so know what it means and will do everything to get there again. So will we, though!
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Gelsenkirchen