Schalker International: Anders Østerlund Larsen
In our latest edition of our series ‘Schalker International’, where we’ll meet Schalke fans all over the globe and find out about how they came to love FC Schalke 04, we spoke to Danish supporter, Anders Østerlund Larsen.
How did you become a Schalke fan? Can you remember the first game you watched?
The first game I can remember seeing on TV was the ‘Eurofighter’ UEFA Cup final against Inter Milan. I had just turned 12 a few days before so I wasn’t that old. For some reason, Martin Max springs to mind as a player I liked. This was of course before the internet took off, so I wasn’t able to watch a game before Danish TV started to broadcast Bundesliga games. This was sadly the ill-fated 00-01 season, with the last game at the Parkstadion and that horrific finish to the season. I remember crying after that match even though I was only 16 years old.
What’s supporting Schalke like in Denmark?
I’m guessing that there are quite a few fans around the country but we are not that organised so there are no events or meetings that that I know of, but luckily I have some friends that share the same passion as me and we have travelled around Germany to see Schalke 04 play. At the moment, we have a small Facebook group that was started a year or two ago so I hope that it can start a more organised group where we can meet up or travel together to see games.
Do you have a favourite S04 match?
On TV it’s the 7-4 match against Leverkusen, but live in the stadium it’s a tough choice. My first game in a German stadium was at Bayern’s old Olympiastadion back in 2004; Schalke won 1-0 with an Asamoah goal, the game was probably not that good but it was my first experience of the Bundesliga. My first game at the VELTINS-Arena is my other choice. One year after my first Bundesliga game, me and three other friends somehow got tickets in the Bayern section at the VELTINS-Arena and when our hometown boy Søren Larsen scored a penalty to equalise in injury time, the other guys had to talk me down so I didn’t get beaten up by some Bayern fans! But if we’re talking about the quality of the match then I would have to say the 4-3 against Sporting Lisbon in the 14/15 Champions League.
How often have you been to Germany or the VELTINS-Arena?
I have been to the VELTINS-Arena seven times. I’ve seen Bundesliga matches against Bayern Munich, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg and then Werder Bremen. I have been to two Champions League matches, the aforementioned Sporting Lisbon game and also against Lokomotiv Moscow, and finally Raúl’s farewell game. I have managed to see Schalke at both Bayern’s old and new stadiums, twice in Stuttgart, several times in Hamburg and Berlin and once in Rostock and I have also seen us play friendlies in Kiel and St Pauli and at Tottenham. I can add that my first Schalke match ever was the UEFA Cup return leg against Brøndby IF in Denmark, so that game was only 30 kilometres or so from my hometown. I also went to nearby Malmö in Sweden to see a friendly match there, so I have been to plenty of places to watch the Royal Blues!
What do you love about the club? What makes S04 special?
Like Liverpool, I think it’s a workers’ club, you don’t have that fancy glamour like you find at Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern etc. You also see a lot of families at the VELTINS-Arena so you can really feel that the people of Gelsenkirchen really care about their club and they support their team in good and bad times. You can call it a local club but on a global scale. When I feel the pain when that stupid Swede Patrick Anderson scores in the 04th minute of injury time, I also feel equal joy when we lift yet another DFB-Pokal. You can’t have the joy without the pain, if that makes sense.
Do you have an all-time favourite player? Ebbe Sand, perhaps?
Ebbe Sand for sure, being a Dane. But ‘Das Kampfschwein’ Wilmots, Raúl and Gerald Asamoah are my favourite players. My love of Schalke started with Martin Max, so I have to put him up there as well.
One player (past or present) you would love to see play for Schalke is…
Christian Eriksen is a world-class player and I’m sad to see his talent wasted at Inter. I think he could do a good job here at Schalke 04. Another one could be Kasper Dolberg – he’s a very good striker. He’s playing at Nice at the moment but he comes from the Ajax talent factory and I think we’re missing some Danish players on the team. I know Rønnow is on the team now but we need more!
Finally, why would you recommend supporting Schalke?
‘Der Geilste Club der Welt’ (The most amazing club in the world) – what more is there to say! To be more serious, when people have experienced the atmosphere at the VELTINS-Arena, they are sold. It’s not only the Nordkurve that joins in on the action like you see at most other places, but the other stands join in as well.