Bastian Oczipka: I'd have bit your hand off!
After his summer move, Bastian Oczipka has established himself as a crucial player in Schalke’s set-up. The left-footer looks back at the first half of the season and his first Christmas in Gelsenkirchen.
Bastian, when we spoke during the summer training camp in Mittersill, the week before you’d travelled thousands of miles from your former club Eintracht Frankfurt’s tour of the USA to the closing stages of Schalke’s tour of China. This trip to Benidorm must seem like a walk in the park right?
That’s true! It was much more relaxed. The two hours on the plane and then the bus journey went pretty quickly. It’s a good job as we don’t have a lot of time to prepare for the second half of the season. It’s really not long until we go again against Leipzig.
You’re 28 years old and experienced a number of training camps and the like… how does this one hold up in comparison and what are a player’s thoughts heading into a training camp?
Of course you can all imagine that pre-season isn’t the most enjoyable time in a footballer’s career but it’s part and parcel of being a player. We all know how important this time is and we want create the foundations to build upon for the remainder of the season.
What’s the difference between a training camp and training sessions back in Gelsenkirchen?
In a training camp, you can work more intensively as you have more time than normal. Sure, we train twice a day a lot of the time at Schalke but in Benidorm we’re together as a team 24 hours a day. It also gives us the chance to learn through video footage. Moreover, it’s good for team spirit.
We are nowhere near finished with our development.
How have you stayed fit over the Christmas period?
I haven’t had many days off due to our tight schedule so no one is starting from zero. Every player has been given their own training plan so I’m just keeping to my personal schedule.
How was your Christmas? It was your first Christmas as a three after the birth of your son Paul, right?
Yes. We stayed at home and celebrated with the whole family. Lots of relatives came to visit so my house was full. It was great fun but it went by too quick for my liking! I was on holiday for a few days and did a bit of snowboarding but mainly rested my batteries for the coming weeks.
After your move, you’ve been a key player in the first half of Schalke’s season. Now the team is in second place and a place in the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal…
It couldn’t have been much better, right? If you’d have offered me right away where we are now, I’d have bit your hand off! Of course, you always have hopes and expectations but you don’t always reach them. I’m very happy with how things have panned out at Schalke so far.
I’m very happy with how things have panned out at Schalke so far.
What’s the highlight of your season so far?
I’ve been asked that a lot already and the only answer I can give is this: our team spirit and fight as it’s grown so much in the past few months. I believe we’ve still got a long way to go. It’s important that we keep our focus and are hungry to keep getting points on the board.
You’ve had a big part to play in the team’s development as a whole. Your hard work down the left side has created lots of chances and goals for the Royal Blues. However, you have scored yourself yet. Do you think you’ll be celebrating a goal of your own before the end of the season?
I don’t mind who scores the goals – as long as someone does! However, to score myself at some point would be great. Against Augsburg I was pretty close but I’ve not managed it yet and the lads have made me fully aware of that! When I nearly scored, it was 2-0 seconds later so I still got to celebrate anyway.