Sascha Riether: The team is more than just the eleven players
Around two years ago, Sascha Riether said goodbye to the VELTINS-ARENA during a home game against Hamburger SV in 2016/17. Four months later, the right-back made his return to the Royal-Blues. “Schalke came again to me and asked if I wanted to continue playing,” said the 36-year-old.
Although Riether has not played a competitive game since, the former Germany international still has status within the team. This has been emphasized over and over again by his team mates and coaching staff whenever they speak about Sascha. The player himself explained: “Everyone who has played football themselves knows that a team isn’t just the 11 players selected. Obviously those players have to do the job on the pitch, but for the rest of the day you are with them in the changing room or while travelling. There is also of course a hierarchy, which every team has to have.”
Relegation or a play-off would have been a nightmare
Riether understands that he is able to look after the younger players by giving them tips. “I have always tried to encourage everyone or give people a wake-up call when their heads are down,” he explained and continued: “It is important to have certain players at the training ground, even if they do not play in games.” Alongside Riether, there is Michael Langer, the third-choice goalkeeper who has not played a competitive game in recent years but is a big character on the training pitch.
It was 17 beautiful but also very tiring years.
Riether hopes that he will get some minutes during the last home game against VFB Stuttgart, as he finishes his career – this time it being his choice. “For me, it would be a great experience to play once more in the VELTINS-Arena. I hope that the knee lets me,” he said. If he is not able to play, the defender will not kick up a fuss or mope around. There is one thing more important to him: “I would not want to give away what we have now. I wouldn’t have liked to be leaving with a play-off or even relegation. That would have been a nightmare.”
Riether isn’t sure what the future has in store for him yet. “First I will take my coaching badges, then look at continuing my studies in a more management-focused direction,” he revealed. However, first he wants to take a holiday and recharge after finally hanging up his boots because “it has been 17 beautiful but also very tiring years.”