Schalker International: Aymen Tahraoui
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 Algerian supporter, Aymen Tahraoui.
How did you become a Schalke fan?
It goes back to 2011, when Schalke had a great run in the Champions League and won the DFB-Pokal. I was 14 back then and I was just watching and enjoying football in general. I didn’t have a favourite club to support, but I was leaning towards the Bundesliga because it was free to watch here in Algeria, so I was already watching Schalke in the Bundesliga.
What’s supporting Schalke like in Algeria?
Actually, it is little bit strange. Most Algerians support the most successful clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid. You rarely find people who support clubs that aren’t challenging for titles every year – but I don’t mind being different for supporting S04! In fact, it makes me feel special to support a club full of tradition like Schalke, who have fans that support the club no matter what happens.
Do you know any other Schalke fans?
I have only met two Algerian fans. Unfortunately, we don’t have a huge fan base here or even a Facebook group.
Do you have a favourite Schalke match?
I think most Schalke fans would choose a derby and that’s the same for me too. I have a lot of favourite matches in mind, but I would have to go for the crazy 4-4 in Dortmund back in 2017. I remember watching it at home with my Dad, who couldn’t stop laughing at me at half-time, when we were 4-0 down. I kept on telling him that the game wasn’t over, even though it was almost impossible for us come back. I kept the faith and I almost cried when Naldo scored the equaliser. I couldn’t believe what had happened and I just went crazy. I told all my friends and family about the game – it’s something you don’t often experience in life.
Have you ever been to Germany or the VELTINS-Arena?
Unfortunately, no. This is what I’m missing as a Schalke fan. I’ve not even been to Germany yet. It’s a bit difficult to get a visa to get there, but my dream is to visit Gelsenkirchen, the city of miners, and watch Schalke in the VELTINS-Arena. The atmosphere looks so awesome and I’m just hoping I can make it there one day.
Who is your favourite all-time Schalke player?
I’m not old enough to have watched players like Olaf Thon, Klaus Fischer or guys from the Eurofighters, so I would have to choose from players in recent years. My favourite all-time Schalker would have to be Benedikt Höwedes. He was a true leader and a loyal Schalker, who really loved this club and gave everything he could. I was devastated when he announced his retirement recently.
One player (past or present) you would love to see play for Schalke is…
Riyad Mahrez. It would be great to see my favourite Algerian player at my favourite club! Riyad is a very talented player, who can unlock any defence and make the difference for his side.
What do you love about the club? What makes S04 special?
One of the main things is that you don’t just watch football games, but you really live for this club. I guess this is what ‘Wir leben dich’ stands for – I feel like I live Schalke’s passions, emotions and pride. I feel close to the club and the city of Gelsenkirchen. Other things that make S04 special are the history, the culture and tradition. A number of great talents have come through the Knappenschmiede and made their professional debuts such as Julian Draxler, Max Meyer, Sead Kolasinac, Thilo Kehrer and Weston McKennie.
Finally, why would you recommend supporting Schalke?
Because Schalke is a very special and unique football club, not just about titles and money, but a club that represents passion, pride, loyalty and the love of the game.