Ralf Fährmann: We’ll never forget this match

For as long as he lives, Ralf Fährmann will never forget his first derby as Schalke 04 captain. “I still haven’t come to terms with the match,” reveals the goalkeeper. “It’ll take a few weeks, if not months to get my head around it. I don’t think any of us will ever experience something quite like it again.”

The 29-year-old stresses that a derby is about more than ‘just’ who gets the three points. “A derby like is about heart and emotion,” says Fährmann. “In the Ruhr Valley, you see either blue and white or black and yellow virtually every day. At the bakery, in the cinema, at the supermarket – wherever I go, the people live and die for football and their club.”

The same is true for Fährmann. “It was crazy on Saturday; I’ll never be able to put that madness into words. This game means a huge amount to me,” says the goalkeeper, who was wearing a Schalke jersey at the age of 14, when he first turned professional. He made his Bundesliga debut in the derby and, according to Fährmann, that match in September 2008 shared some parallels to the 4-4 draw. “We were leading 3-0 back then and the match ended 3-3. It was disappointing for us;” says the captain, looking back.

A lot of teams would have given up in our situation and stuck their heads in the sand.

Ralf Fährmann

That this time it was the Royal Blues who came back from behind to earn a draw is testament to the resilience and determination of Domenico Tedesco’s team. “A lot of teams would have given up in our situation and stuck their heads in the sand,” said Fährmann, “but our head coach found exactly the right words in the dressing room. He said that we had to look at the second half as a completely different game, that we should try and win next 45 minutes. Domenico is not just a great head coach in terms of his knowledge of the game, he’s also has great qualities on the psychological and mental level. He moved us with his words – I’m very pleased to be working with him. Domenico hasn’t been here long, but we all feel as if we’re all growing and developing together.”

It was clear by the stunning comeback that the head coach’s words had the desired effect after half-time. At 3-4, Fährmann was even tempted to join the team’s onslaught himself. “I had these scenes in my head: me running up the pitch and scoring a goal – like Jens Lehmann in the derby,” the goalkeeper reveals. “Then Alexander Nübel showed me that there were still five minutes to go so I stayed back.”

Fährmann was following the action anxiously when Naldo scored. “We all know Naldo is good in the air, but the way he moved in the box before the goal was truly unique,” praised Fährmann. “Anytime we’re trailing in the future, we’ll remember this game and know that there’s always a way back.”