Thomas Ouwejan: My favourite German word? Promotion!

His goal was the Bundesliga – now he’s made it there. Thomas Ouwejan was one of the key players in the promotion season. The Dutchman talks to schalke04.de about the parties after achieving promotion to the top flight, work at the training camp and his goals in the upcoming season. The left-footer also shows how keen he is to play in front of the Royal Blue fans.

Thomas Ouwejan

Thomas, before the start of a training camp, lots of players regularly say that they are excited at the prospect. Is that really the case?
Yes and no (laughs). We have the best conditions here – the view of the mountains is very nice. That makes getting up in the morning a bit easier. But the training intensity is very hard – it takes it out of you. But that’s exactly what we came to Mittersill for. In addition, it gives the opportunity to have good discussions with our teammates or with the team around the team. Last year it really helped me as a new signing to quickly become part of the group.

After lots of athletic work in the first three week, it’s now more about the technical footballing skills. What is Frank Kramer focusing on currently?
We’re working on the chemistry between the various parts of the team – in defence as well as in attack. There are also a few specific exercises. We’re making steps forward every day and we’re getting better and better.

Last year you begged us to do your first interview in English. Since then, you’ve learnt to understand and speak German very well. Have you taken up German classes?
No, I’ve taught myself everything. German and Dutch are very similar to each other. Also, I’m a very extroverted person and I like to talk to my teammates a lot – and when you talk a lot, you inevitably learn the language.

I’m a very extroverted person and I like to talk to my teammates a lot.

Thomas Ouwejan

Is “Aufsteiger” (promotion) your favourite German word since two months ago?
You could say that, yes (laughs).

You stressed the point repeatedly last season that it’s a big dream of yours to play in the Bundesliga – namely with Schalke 04. This dream is now becoming reality. What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?
Staying up is priority number one. Then I can turn my first year in the Bundesliga into a second year. I want to contribute assists again so that we can achieve this goal. And of course I want to score the odd goal myself as well. I know that the quality in the Bundesliga has risen yet again. But that’s exactly what motivates me.

What was the biggest moment for you last season?
The 90 minutes against St. Pauli on matchday 33. We played really well in the first half, but we were 2-0 down. Despite the unsatisfactory score line, the fans stood behind us like a wall. The atmosphere on that night is something I’ll never forget in my entire life. What happened after the change of ends was simply indescribable. I always believed in us.

When I left the VELTINS-Arena, it was already light again.

Thomas Ouwejan

The party afterwards is said to have been very long…
Hah, yeah it was. When I left the VELTINS-Arena, it was already light again (grins). I was still in the stadium at six o’clock in the morning celebrating our promotion with my teammates and lots of club staff.

Lots of Schalke fans will come together soon. On 24th July the big Schalke Day will take place. Do you know what’s waiting for you?
I’ve seen a few videos and photos from previous years and I was impressed by how many people came to Schalke for the start of the season. I’m excited to see what awaits me. The promotion party with the fan at the VELTINS-Area after coming back from Nuremberg was already overwhelming. I can also sense how much excitement the fans have for the new season. On the one hand from the euphoria at our public training sessions, but also when I read how many tickets have already been sold for the first home games. That is Schalke!

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