A giant of German football forged in the “city of a thousand fires”, Schalke can lay claim to some of the most passionate fans and one of the most intense rivalries in the game. Let bundesliga.com give you the lowdown on a club steeped in tradition.

History

A club with a proud working-class heritage, Schalke are one of Germany’s best-supported sides and home to some of the country’s most passionate and loyal supporters. Their historical significance is not in doubt – the Gelsenkirchen club were four-time German champions in the 1930s and six times overall – though success has been harder to come by in recent decades.

The UEFA Cup win of 1997 remains one of the club’s greatest triumphs and DFB Cup wins in 2001, 2002 and 2011 have swelled their trophy cabinet further. However, a Bundesliga title still eludes them and their last national championship win was back in 1958. Indeed the pursuit of a maiden Bundesliga triumph has become an obsession among the supporters, even more so since the infamous final day of the 2000/01 season, where they were all but champions until Bayern Munich’s Patrik Andersson scored an injury-time winner at Hamburg. With Schalke celebrations cut short, the atmosphere quickly turned to shock and disbelief. The events earned the Royal Blues (named for their club colours) the nickname "champions of the heart".

Schalke goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was the hero in Milan as the Royal Blues beat Inter on penalties to lift the 1996/97 UEFA Cup.
Schalke goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was the hero in Milan as the Royal Blues beat Inter on penalties to lift the 1996/97 UEFA Cup. © imago / Uwe Kraft

Honours

7x German champions (1934, 1935, 1937, 1940, 1942, 1958)
5x DFB Cup (1937, 1972, 2001, 2002, 2011)
1x German Supercup (2011)
1x German League Cup (2005)
1x UEFA Cup (1997)
2x UEFA Intertoto Cup (2003, 2004)

Coach

When he was appointed head coach, few outside of Gelsenkirchen, let alone Germany, may have known who Domenico Tedesco was. After a first full season, the 32-year-old is already a household name. Tedesco embraced responsibility from day one, replacing World Cup winner Benedikt Höwedes as captain and loaning him to Juventus, installing a back three, re-inventing Max Meyer as a holding midfielder and handing USA teenager Weston McKennie an extended role in the first team. At the end of a remarkable debut season in 2017/18, Schalke were back in the UEFA Champions League and runners-up in the Bundesliga for the first time in six years.

Despite arriving at Schalke a relative unknown, Domenico Tedesco (c.) is now a real fan favourite among the Royal Blue faithful.
Despite arriving at Schalke a relative unknown, Domenico Tedesco (c.) is now a real fan favourite among the Royal Blue faithful. © gettyimages / Patrik Stollarz

Star man

What stood out in Schalke’s 2017/18 campaign was their defensive steel and toughness, and nobody embodied that more than veteran defender Naldo. The Bundesliga’s record Brazilian appearance-maker played every single minute in 2017/18, helped his side to 13 clean sheets and scored a hugely impressive seven goals at the other end, including the equaliser in a legendary 4-4 draw away at derby rivals Borussia Dortmund, a game in which Schalke fought back from 4-0 down. Quite possibly Schalke’s most important player but approaching his 36th birthday, Naldo will leave a very large hole indeed when he departs.

Watch: The 4-4 Revierderby, including Naldo's injury-time equaliser

Last season

A draw away and a win at home in the Revierderby, second place in the league and a return to the Champions League – pretty much everything went right for Schalke in 2017/18. The real success, however, is yet to come. Once a club known for instability, continuity now looks a real prospect in Gelsenkirchen with the extremely gifted Tedesco at the helm.

Stadium

One of Germany’s most modern stadia and, consequently, one of its most atmospheric, the Veltins-Arena is another must-see venue if you find yourself in the Ruhr region and have an afternoon to spare. With a total capacity of 62,271 and a stadium design that locks in sound to optimise the noise levels, live football at the Veltins-Arena is a unique experience.

Add to that the arena’s retractable pitch (it is often used for music concerts) and roof, and four-screen video cube to ensure every fan has a fantastic view of the pitch itself and the replays, and you have a stadium that is the envy of clubs around the world. The Veltins-Arena played host to five matches at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, as well as the 2004 Champions League final.

Watch: Inside the hallowed halls of the Veltina-Arena

The city

While the material influence of the coal-mining industry on Gelsenkirchen has long since waned, its legacy is one and indivisible with the city and its surrounding areas. Old refineries have been re-moulded into event halls and ice-skating rinks, and cycle paths now line the roads where rail tracks once led.

In the north of the city, amid a designated lowland nature reserve set with 300-year-old oak trees, lies Haus Lüttinghoff, a moated castle. First documented in 1308, it is the city's oldest historic monument and is well worth a visit. Further towards the city centre you can find the neo-gothic church of Saint Urban, built relatively recently in 1893, partially damaged in World War 2 and rebuilt in its modern-day grandeur.

Football is king in Gelsenkirchen, however, and its key attraction is its world-famous arena. Being a young city, Gelsenkirchen does not have the traditional centuries-old bars or beer halls one might find in nearby Cologne, Dusseldorf or even Dortmund. It has its own football culture, however, and bars which reflect it: The Café Centrale near the main railway station is one of the popular meeting places for fans.

Getting there

The closest international airport is Dusseldorf, which is the third largest in Germany with regular low-cost flights around Europe, as well regular flights to New York JFK and Newark. Once you’ve landed, getting to Gelsenkirchen could hardly be simpler, with regular train services from the airport’s station taking passengers to Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof in just 35-40 minutes.

For more options, Cologne-Bonn Airport is a further 30 minutes train ride away, while Frankfurt Airport – the largest in Germany with numerous daily flights to North America – is roughly two hours away with regular high-speed train services from the airport to Dusseldorf and nearby Essen and Dortmund.

Getting to the Veltins-Arena

Situated in the north of the city, the stadium is a mere 16-minute ride on the 302 tram from the Hauptbahnhof (towards Gelsenkirchen-Buer), and is just 40 minutes by car from Dusseldorf airport.

Buying tickets

Tickets can still be bought via the official club website HERE.

Can’t make it? Watch here:

If you can’t make it to the stadium, Bundesliga matches are broadcast around the world. FOX Sports and Univision provide coverage in the United States, while BT Sports are the exclusive broadcaster in the United Kingdom. In Germany, Sky Sports show the majority of matches, with Eurosport hosting one match per week.

Buy the kit

You can get your own Schalke jersey from the official club shop.

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