Sascha Riether: I identified myself with Schalke every single day
Schalke’s 0-0 draw with VfB Stuttgart was a special day for Sascha Riether. The 36 year old only played a few minutes, but was celebrated during and after the match. The defender spoke to schalke04.de about the end of his career, his emotions and feelings on his substitution into the game, the parting gift from his teammates and his plans for the future.
Sascha, you played your final minutes as a footballer against VfB Stuttgart. Has it sunk in yet that your 249th Bundesliga appearance was your last ever one?
It was known for a while that I was going to retire. But it is still a strange feeling that 17 years of being a professional footballer are now over. I’ll probably only start to realise that it is actually over when I’m not getting in the car at the end of the summer break to go to training.
Huub Stevens said ahead of the game that he wanted to bring you on so you could get the send off that you deserved…
I’m so grateful that he did that, I’ll remember the day for the rest of my life. It was only a few minutes, but it felt amazing. Unfortunately the referee blew quite quickly, but I still got a touch of the ball (chuckles).
Did the coach give you any tactical instructions just before you came on?
Keep it to nil! (laughs)
I’ll remember the day for the rest of my life.
Just before kickoff, when you were given an official farewell, you were touched. And also when you were substituted on, it was very emotional…
Yeah, it’s clear that I was very emotional. It was a really special moment when the fans were calling for me and then almost the whole stadium started chanting my name.
When you came on in the 89th minute, not just the fans, but also your teammates and the coaching staff were applauding…
I got goose bumps. Even the Stuttgart players took part.
At full time the Nordkurve were still cheering you, and some fans even gave you a Nordkurve shirt. Do you have any explanation as to why you’re so popular with the supporters?
I think that the fans appreciate that I gave everything for the club and have always fully identified myself with Schalke and will continue to do so. In exchange for the Nordkurve shirt, I gave them my shirt from the match. I don’t know what will happen with it in the future – I’m curious to find out.
Did any previous teammates call you or message you after the game?
Yeah, there were a few. It is a really nice acknowledgement. Above all there were a lot of messages from the Wolfsburg guys, because on Saturday it was their ten year anniversary since winning the title.
Is there any particular message that made you smile the most?
I don’t really want to name any names. But one that did really make me happy was a WhatsApp message from Domenico Tedesco, who wished me all the best for the future.
Domenico Tedesco wrote to me and wished me all the best for the future.
Have you already done something to celebrate your retirement with the team?
Sure, that’s all part of it. A few days ago we had a barbeque after training – it was a really nice afternoon and a few people gave speeches. I also got a really special present from the boys.
Could you let us know what your teammates came up with for you?
They gave me a 22 year old pinball machine with a Jurassic Park design, apparently because I still look 22. I’m not sure whether that’s true or not! (laughs). All the guys have signed it. It will fit in really nicely in my basement bar. I already have a dartboard down there where we’ve already had some intense matches!
You said that you’re going to go on holiday first. What are you looking forward to the most?
Just that I don’t have to go jogging like I had to do every day all the other times (laughs). Instead, I can enjoy a pizza or a döner without having to think about my weight at the start of pre season. When all the other guys are returning to Gelsenkirchen and getting ready for pre season again, I’ll be laying in a hammock somewhere (laughs).
What are your plans for the future after your holiday?
I’m going to do by coaching badges sometime soon. And I might also look at doing further education in Management. We’ll just have to see how it goes. I would definitely like to stay in football.