Raul: Schalke have a big place in my heart

Raul came to the VELTINS Arena on Sunday to cheer on the Royal Blues in their derby with Dortmund. We spoke to the 40-year-old on his connection to S04, his thoughts on Domenico Tedesco and the team as well as his future plans.

Raul, six years after your emotional goodbye, you are still an idol to many Schalke fans. What does it mean to you to be so highly valued by the fans at Schalke?

Schalke as a club will always have a big place in my heart and the fantastic fans are a part of that. The two years here were unforgettable. I only have positive memories from my time here. The highlight was winning the DFB-Pokal in May 2011. However, receiving the amount of love and respect from the fans as I did was better than any title. Every game was insane. I enjoyed every single day.

Before being at Schalke, you were at Real Madrid for 17 years.

By transferring in the summer of 2010, I left my home and my club behind. I didn’t fully know what to expect. Therefore, I’m just grateful for everything. I love Schalke like it’s my own child. It’s a well-run club but also a family and a family that I’m extremely proud to be a part of.

What are your thoughts on the Knappen’s development this season?

It’s been extremely positive. Last season didn’t live up to expectations but now the team is fighting to be in the Champions League. They’re in second place and can be proud of their performances. You can only congratulate Domenico Tedesco for the work he’s done. He’s a young head coach whose improved the team. It’s fun watching the team develop.

Have you kept in contact with your former colleagues and teammates at FC Schalke 04?

Yes, even if a fair bit has changed on and off the pitch. I speak often to Alexander Jobst and Bodo Menze. From the team, only Ralf Fährmann and Max Meyer are still there from my time at the club. Unfortunately, I don’t know any of the other lads on a personal level. However, you get the impression that the team is filled with good players.

Do you speak to other people who were at Schalke at the same time as you?

I keep in touch with Jefferson Farfan, Jurado and Sergio Escudero. Also, I have spoken to Manuel Neuer and Julian Draxler since. I have a very close relationship with Jule still. Mainly I’m trying to keep in touch with as many former players as possible to keep the memories of my time at Schalke fresh.

In summer, you’re starting to get your coaching badges at Real Madrid. Could you imagine becoming a coach at Schalke in the future?

Next week, I’m starting with a seminar and then it takes around eighteen months to get a coaching license. Were I to get the opportunity to become a head coach at Schalke, I’d most certainly consider it.  It would be a new experience but it’s a long way off yet. I wish Schalke all the best from the bottom of my heart. I’m sure Domenico Tedesco will work here for many years to come and have success with the team.

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