Ko Itakura: defender, midfielder and soon-to-be striker?
It was the moment of the match on Saturday afternoon in the VELTINS-Arena: after a pass from Dominick Drexler, Ko Itakura first cut right, then left, leaving two defenders in his dust before slotting the ball into the back of the net. The 25-year-old then wildly celebrated in front of the Nordkurve together with his teammates.
It was the fourth goal this season for the Japan international. “Not bad, right?” was Itakura’s response when asked about his goal haul so far this season. However, he’s not focused on scoring goals himself. “The important thing is that we win our games. Whoever ends up getting their name on the scoresheet doesn’t matter.”
Simon and Bülti don’t have anything to worry about.
Itakura started in defensive midfield against 1. FC Heidenheim, having featured at centre-back in several other games this season. “I play wherever I can be of the most help to the team. Whether it’s in defence or midfield doesn’t matter. Maybe I’ll be a striker in the next game,” he said with a laugh. “Jokes aside, we have some great strikers in our team who know how to score. Simon and Bülti don’t have anything to worry about.”
Schalke’s No. 3 scored his side’s second goal of the day in a 3-0 win against Heidenheim. “A really tough challenge,” was what Itakura had to say about the game. “We really had to fight.” However, the team had been prepared for that, said Itakura. “Heidenheim beat Bremen recently, as well as Nürnberg. They are a good team, which we witnessed earlier this season as well.”
“The table is just a snapshot”
Itakura was pleased to have picked up all three points, in what was Schalke’s fourth consecutive win, something the fans also played a huge part in. “They really carry us. I always get goosebumps when we are celebrating in front of the Nordkurve after a game. It’s just incredible.”
The 25-year-old was also left smiling when looking at the live table after the match. “However, it’s just a snapshot in time. It’s only matchday 29, which we can’t forget. We need to continue to do our job in every game.“