Daniel Caligiuri: Everyone has a smile on their face
Daniel Caligiuri is currently away with the rest of his teammates, preparing for the second half of the season in Fuente Alamo. The 31-year-old speaks about his start to the New Year, the support of the fans, the second half of the season, his objectives and the hope of extending his personal derby record.
Happy New Year, Daniel! How did you spend the holidays?
I celebrated Christmas with my family. I surprised my wife with a trip to Rome for several days and we spent Christmas Eve there as well. It was nice to get away for a few days. I’m now full of energy and ready for 2020.
You and the rest of the lads are currently preparing for the second half of the season in Fuente Alamo in Spain. Last season you finished the Hinrunde in 13th place; this season has gone much better so far. Is there a noticeable difference in the mood around the camp this year?
The mood is automatically better when you’re doing well as a team. But I’m not too fussed about where we are in the table at the moment. It’s the way we have performed over the past few weeks and months that make me confident for the rest of the season. However, we can’t let the intensity drop now or we could easily start to fall down a few places. The job isn’t done yet.
The fans are very upbeat. There were lots of happy faces at the Royal Blue Night. How did you find the evening?
We received lots of positive feedback from the fans. And everyone had a smile on their face. I think it was a successful evening and, at the same time, a thank you to all of the fans who travelled hundreds of Kilometres to come and support us in Spain. That’s what Schalke is all about!
We received lots of positive feedback from the fans.
Has David Wagner laid a particular emphasis on anything during the training camp?
We’ve done a lot of work on our style of play. If you watch it, you will see that the intensity is really high. But it has to be that way. We press really well as a team and, in order to do this, everyone needs to be at a top fitness level.
What was your training programme like during your time off?
Every player was given an individual plan before the Winter break. In Rome, I did most of my exercises in the hotel gym. It was safer for me to eat up Kilometres on the treadmill than on the narrow streets of Rome (laughs).
Were you allowed to eat differently?
Yes, that’s part of it. And it was delicious. However, after the holiday I said that I wouldn’t eat pasta again for a few weeks (laughs). But everything was fine with my weight when it was checked at the start of training.
Michael Gregoritsch is a new player at the club. What is your first impression of him?
As a person he fits in perfectly; that was clear to see straight away. He settled in instantly and was really well received. From a footballing point of view, I already knew what Michael is capable of because he has played in the Bundesliga for a few years. He’s big, strong in the air and has a great left foot. I am confident that he will be a quality addition to the side.
Of course it’s special to start the second half of the season on a Friday evening in your own stadium.
Alexander Nübel’s summer transfer to Bayern Munich was announced a few days ago. Is that a big issue around the dressing room?
Of course we’ve spoken about it. He told us his decision and we have to accept it. Alex is still with us until the end of the season and he’s an important part of the team. I’m convinced that he will give everything for Schalke 04 up until he leaves the club.
You’re faced with a difficult home game against Borussia Mönchengladbach to kick off the second half of the season. Is it an advantage for you to start the Rückrunde in front of your own fans?
I said recently that every game feels like a home game because our fans come to support us everywhere, whether it’s at the VELTINS-Arena or not. Nevertheless, of course it’s special to start the second half of the season on a Friday evening in your own stadium. We want to start with a strong performance and pick up the three points.
What are your intentions for the next few weeks, as a team but also personally?
We want to up the ante. The first half of the season was good, but we still have room for improvement. First of all, it’s important that I stay fit. That’s the most important thing for a footballer. I also want to use my experience to support the team, and become a leader so that we keep our spirits up even if we have a bit of a dip. I was involved in a few goals in the last couple of games and I want to keep that going.
So the fans can already look forward to your mandatory goal away in the derby?
That would be something (laughs). It’s always special to score there. I hope that I can extend my successful derby record.