Ben Manga joins FC Schalke 04

The Royal Blues have bolstered their sporting management team with the addition of Ben Manga, who has become the new director of squad planning, scouting and the Knappenschmiede youth academy. Manga has signed a long-term contract at the club and will be responsible for Schalke’s senior and youth teams alongside sporting director Marc Wilmots with immediate effect. Both Manga and Wilmots will report directly to Schalke CEO, Matthias Tillmann.

“Bringing Ben Manga to the club sends out a strong signal. The supervisory board presented our sporting strategy to him over the course of several meetings and he will now spearhead its implementation with full enthusiasm,” explained Tillman. He continued: “In Ben, we’ve opted to bring a specialist on board who has all the skills that you need for successful, sustainable sporting development. Ben and his team of scouts have been working with us for a number of weeks and are a big network who use tried and tested methods. Their understanding of football and selection criteria for players aligns perfectly with our vision – we want to sign young talents who are eager to prove themselves for low transfer fees and integrate them into a framework of experienced, resilient pros to aid their development. In this way, we want to achieve our two core goals of achieving sporting success and increasing the value of the squad.”

In Ben, we’ve opted to bring a specialist on board who has all the skills that you need for successful, sustainable sporting development.

Matthias Tillmann

Tillmann went on to explain the director roles have been split: “The sporting director is responsible for ensuring that our short-term goals are met. He works closely with the head coach in order to encourage the development of the squad. He is also responsible for the are of performance, as well as representing the club externally in sporting matters. The director of squad planning, scouting and the Knappenschmiede, on the other hand, will be responsible for our long-term goal – increasing the value of the squad. He’ll make decisions regarding the make-up of the senior squad, as well as for the youth teams from the U17s upwards,” stated Tillmann. “Additionally, his duty encompasses strategically sourcing potential partner clubs and monitoring players on loan.”

The ultimate aim will be to achieve the club’s goal of returning and re-establishing themselves in the Bundesliga.  “Both the executive and supervisory boards have set the timeframe at three years, in which we want to first win promotion and then manage to stay up. Everyone is aware that this journey will be a challenging one, which is why we’re ready to tackle it with confidence and energy,” said Tillmann.

This same feeling is echoed by Ben Manga, who has already begun working in his new role with the Royal Blues. The 50-year-old is already involved in preparing for next season, saying “I’m looking forward to taking up responsibility at Schalke and playing a part in shaping the future of the club. We will start with the summer transfer window. Marc Wilmots and Raffael Tonello have done an excellent job over the last months, and now we will continue on together. We have a lot we want to achieve!”

I'm looking forward to taking up responsibility at Schalke and playing a part in shaping the future of the club.

Ben Manga

The former professional makes no secret of what’s needed in order to accomplish the stated aims: “We need team players who are ready to give their all for the success of the team. That includes various qualities, but above all, it requires an understanding of one’s own role. Mentality beats talent, if it is not used purposefully.”

Ben Manga was born in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, but grew up in Neuss. The defender joined Fortuna Düsseldorf from VfR Neuss, and later enjoyed stints in Wuppertal, Uerdingen, Aachen and Karlsruhe. Following his retirement from professional football, he took up a position as a youth coach and scout at Alemmania Aachen under then sporting director Jörg Schmadtke. After a spell at Hoffenheim, Manga would later meet Fredi Bobic at VfB Stuttgart, and the two would go on to work closely together at Eintracht Frankfurt as well. Manga took up a position as head scout and then later as director of professional football at Frankfurt, where he played a key part in the Eagles’ 2018 DFB-Pokal triumph as well as their title-winning 2022 Europa League campaign. He then moved to England in 2022 to join Watford FC as the club’s technical director.


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