Sascha Riether: I made my decision immediately
Sascha Riether extended his contract for another year before pre-season began at the beginning of July. In an interview with schalke04.de, the 35-year-old talks about continuing his playing career, the togetherness within the team, the first game of the season against his former club, as well as the new sporting director at VfL Wolfsburg.
Sascha, where did you watch us advance to the second round of the DFB-Pokal from?
I watched the game at home and I was our motivational message had an effect (smirks). In the afternoon, a few of us that did not travel to Schweinfurth due to injuries, as well as a some of the backroom staff, took a photograph in the changing rooms and sent it to the team. Crossing our fingers definitely seemed to work.
What are your conclusions after the 2-0 win?
I thought we won comfortably in the end. It is important to not forget that the other teams can also play football. Schweinfurt went into the tie having already played six league games, despite it being only our first competitive game this season. We have achieved our aim by reaching the next round. When looking at the other results, you can see that not every favourite managed to progress.
You could not take part in the game against Schweinfurt due to tendon problems. When will you be back training with the squad?
Unfortunately, the injury has been a bit of a set-back for me but I am hoping it will not be much longer until I can return to full training. With tendon issues, you have to take it day by day but I can take part in some parts of training.
At the end of last season, Christian Heidel hinted that he and Domenico Tedesco were interested in extending your contract. How long did it take for you to reach an agreement?
Not long at all (laughs). Domenico Tedesco asked me what I will be doing after the 30th June and he then said that he would like me to stay. He sees me as an important part of the team and I also feel at home here so I made my decision immediately.
You have 248 Bundesliga games to your name. The next big milestone is very close.
That would be great. I always give my all in training in order to help the team, but above all I want to help on the pitch.
How do you view your role in the team?
I try to share the experience I have gained throughout my career. The togetherness of the team is really important for me. It is not only about the chemistry on the pitch, but also the atmosphere in the dressing room. You can only be a successful team if you have great unity off the pitch, which was a huge bonus for us last season.
Domenico Tedesco also sees it that way. The head coach said a few weeks ago, that his players were like brothers, who stick together and help one another.
That is an accurate representation. We always try to help each other, even if they are not playing. Other teams perhaps have more top-quality players but they are not a team. The togetherness also helps make us a difficult team to beat.
There are also some moments of disunity, for example when you play card games. Does it sometimes turn into every man for himself?
That is true (smirks). We do not live in a world of complete harmony, in which we always get on. We are also critical and bring up negative things. That is the way it has to be.
A hugely successful time in your career was when you won the league with VfL Wolfsburg in 2009. What memorabilia do you have at home from the title win?
I actually have a replica Meisterschale, which we could order at the time. Great memories always come flooding back whenever I look at that trophy.
The Wolves are our first Bundesliga opponents of the season. How well do you think Wolfsburg will do this season after two difficult years in the Bundesliga?
The beauty of the opening game is that anything can happen because you are never certain with how you, or the opponents, will play. Wolfsburg will definitely look to finish higher than 16th place this season and they have also strengthened in the transfer window. It is never easy to play in the Volkswagen-Arena but our intention is to go there and win.
Do you still have contact with people in Wolfsburg?
My former teammate Marcel Schäfer was appointed as the sporting director at VfL a few weeks ago. I was good friends with him when we played together and we still send regular messages to each other. I am delighted that he has such an important position at the club and I wish him luck in this role, but just not against us.
Do you have plans for after 1st July 2019?
I have a few ideas but nothing concrete as of yet. I am just focussing on my job at Schalke at the moment and we will see what happens after that.