Matthew Hoppe: Everyone helped to support and encourage me
Despite the disappointing result in Mönchengladbach on Saturday evening, the match will probably live in the minds of two players for a long time into the future. One of these is Matthew Hoppe, who made his Bundesliga debut as he was included in the starting XI.
“I was a bit surprised, but I felt that I was ready. I’ve worked towards this for a long time and obviously I’m over the moon to have achieved this goal,” said the American on his debut. Hoppe described the first few minutes of professional football as “an incredible experience. The Bundesliga is very physical, but it felt good to be out there on the pitch.”
When I joined up with the first team, I felt very welcome. Everyone helped to support and encourage me.
The striker joined Schalke U19s in the summer of 2019 and has made 15 appearances for the Royal Blues U23s in the Regionalliga West this season. His new teammates made the transition to the first team easy for him: “When I joined up with the first team, I felt very welcome. Everyone helped to support and encourage me,” said the 19-year-old.
This impression was confirmed by head coach Manuel Baum: “Matthew has a gift that is very important for young players when they are playing professionally for the first time – his humble and easy-going manner. It seemed as though he’d always been here right from the very first training session,” praised Baum, attesting to the youngster’s good adaptability.
A second debut in the 81st minute
In the 81st minute, Luca Schuler was also handed his Bundesliga debut as the 21-year-old was brought on for his U23 teammate Hoppe. Another youngster from the U19s, Kerim Calhanoglu, also joined up with the squad for the first time. However, the trio of first-timers were ultimately disappointed with the final result against Borussia.
“It’s not an easy situation at the moment, but it’s a challenge that we want to tackle head on,” said Hoppe, who was involved in the Royal Blues’ spell of strong attacking play in the first half hour. “We’ve got a good team and it was definitely a step in the right direction. We just have to make the most of all of our chances, even the half-chances,” explained the American. “We need to get the winning feeling back. That makes things much easier. We’ve got some good games in us and we just need to keep working hard.”