Sascha Riether: Our team spirit is the basis for our success
In the second part of our series of interviews looking back at the last year, schalke04.de asked Sascha Riether to look back on the last half of the season. The former player who acts now as a coordinator between the players and the manager talks about the upcoming training camp and a request from Olaf Thon, which he had to turn down.
Sascha, you finished the first half of the season in the top half of the table. Is there a key game that you can remember that really helped?
I can think of several. The victory on Matchday 4 in Paderborn was an important game, as well as of course the 3-1 away win in Leipzig. That was really an amazing performance by us. We also played really well in the derby, even though we were only able to take a point from it.
You yourself were a player for many years. Does the mentality play an important role?
Indeed it does. We have gained a lot of self-confidence especially from the game against Leipzig. The boys feel that the long-term plan and the ideas of the coaches were fruitful. Our team spirit is the basis for our success. Every player gives their all week in week out for the team. By that I don’t mean just the eleven players on the pitch, but everyone. That is what separates us from last year.
In addition to your position, Massimo Mariotti was also brought in to help the new signings integrate. What part does he play in the success?
Massimo takes excellent care of the boys, and above all their families. If there is a problem or a question, he helps out round the clock. Because we know that when a player’s family is feeling happy, that player feels happy. All other members of the coaching and professional staff have a share of the success of the club. The professional work here is good.
A single player can’t win games by himself.
Which player have you been most surprised by in the first half of the season?
I could probably name one or two, but I think it would be unfair. The good start to the season was down to the performance of the team. A single player can’t win games by himself.
The New Year begins with a winter training camp. After the last three camps in Benidorm this time the team will be preparing for the second half of the season in Fuente Alamo near Murcia. What was the decisive reason for this change?
We had several places in mind. But there weren’t that many options, since clubs have traditionally been training at the same places for years and hotels are often fully booked. In Fuente Alamo, sport coordinator René Grotus and I found something nice. The hotel made a very good impression on us, the pitches are in excellent condition, and there are opportunities for recuperation after the training sessions. And another important factor – it’s well connected. I’m curious to see how it will go. Also we are the first football team to do a training camp there.
Did you previously know how much effort was involved in the planning and organization of a training camp?
No, absolutely not. This applies not only to a training camp but to many other areas. I used to come to training as a player and everything was organized. Now I realize how much effort is involved. You have to pay attention to so many little things to ensure everything works at the end.
What have been the biggest challenges in your new job?
Adapting to the new life. I used to be tired in the evening, because I was physically active during the day. Now it’s all about the mind. I had to get used to it especially in the first couple weeks. Before falling asleep my mind would be rattling like crazy.
I used to come to training as a player and everything was organized. Now I realize how much effort is involved.
With your many new tasks, do you still find time to play any sport yourself?
Yeah, I make some time for myself. I always run before our games, and I also play foot tennis with our physios. It’s always good fun.
You must not miss the individual training plans you had to work with as a player during the winter break!
No. It was really nice to go into the winter break without any demands like that after 20 years as a player (he laughs).
Has Olaf Thon knocked on your door and asked you if you want to play for the legends team every now and then?
He actually asked me once. But I don’t have the time. So I had to turn him down.
How will you celebrate New Year’s Eve?
Very cozily with my family. Around the holidays, my wife and I always make time to see the in-laws and my parents. It will be nice to see everyone for a few days without the day-to-day stress of work. Although that will come back soon enough
Do you already have a New Year’s resolution?
No, I’m going to let myself off for 2020 and hope that we can all stay healthy.