Ralf Fährmann: It was a very emotional moment
The Royal Blues get their Champions League campaign underway today at home against FC Porto. Captain Ralf Fährmann speaks about the excitement ahead of the Champions League, his recollection of the memorable round of 16 match 10 years ago, and goalkeeping icon Iker Casillas, who will be in goal for the Portuguese club.
Ralf, the Bundesliga hasn’t exactly started the way you wanted it to. How much is this dampening the excitement ahead of the Champions League?
It’s a completely different competition and I can’t wait for it, just like the rest of the team. We earned the right to be in this competition from last season’s performances. The branding is completely new, we wear different kit and the Champions League anthem plays before every game. We’re only focussed on the game in hand and can’t wait for it to begin. We’re not paying attention to the opening matches of the Bundesliga anymore, and instead we want to contest a good game against Porto, giving us a positive vibe which we can then take with us into the following weeks.
Sometimes in life you're faced with unexpected challenges
As players, how can you just block out the negative memories of the last few league matches?
Every one of us is fired up for the upcoming game, and we want to give it our all to win. Sometimes in life you’re faced with unexpected challenges. In such a situation, like the one we currently find ourselves in, we have full faith in ourselves nonetheless. We’re happy that we now have a lot of matches in a short period so that we can find our strengths as quickly as possible.
10 years ago, S04 progressed in a memorable round of 16 match against Porto. At the time you were still a very young player and not in the squad, but what can you remember about the game?
It was a magical day for Schalke. Manuel Neuer had his first great moment in the Champions League and attracted a lot of attention with his performance in Porto. We went through on penalties, with the ice-cold Jermaine Jones slotting away the winning goal with his laces. His shot only lasted a millisecond of course, but it felt more like 10 seconds as we were all on the edges of our seats. It was a very emotional moment. I was sitting in the stands but after Jones scored that penalty I was suddenly in the penalty area myself and we all celebrated together. Moments like that are beautiful and I hope that we can experience similar ones again.
Porto’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas will break a Champions League record in this game, as he plays for his 20th Champions League in a row. What do you think of him as a person and player?
Iker Casillas is not only a goalkeeper, but a role model for a lot of people, including myself. He is a keeper that has changed how football is played. We played against each other when he was still at Real Madrid and I’m looking forward to meeting him again. I will definitely be swapping shirts with him.