Schalker International: Hugo L'Abbate
In our latest edition of our new 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 Brazilian supporter, Hugo L'Abbate.
First of all, how did you become a Schalke fan?
I became a Schalke fan thanks to the influence of a few friends and relatives from Germany. Most of my German cousins actually support a rival club, but I felt a deep connection to Schalke from the start thanks to their colours and the relation to the coal miners: I come from a region in Brazil called Minas Gerais (“General Mines”) and people born there are called “Miners” (“mineiros” in Portuguese).
Can you remember the first game you watched on TV?
The first Schalke match I watched on TV was actually one of the biggest heartbreaks in the club’s history: our 2-0 defeat against Dortmund. Even though my connection to the club was new, that defeat was quite hard to swallow and still haunts me at times.
Do you have a favourite S04 match?
My favourite Schalke match would be Real Madrid 3-4 Schalke. Even though we were still eliminated from the UCL, that night we had the eyes of the whole world on us.
What do you love about the club? What makes S04 special?
I love Schalke’s history, its glorious moments, historical players, colours and supporters. I think the unconditional love of the fans and the atmosphere they create are two elements that set the club apart from every other one around the world.
What’s supporting Schalke like in Brazil?
Supporting Schalke in Brazil is not easy most of the time, to be honest. Depending on the importance of the game or how well the club has been playing, it can be hard to find a way to watch all the fixtures. The fan base has been growing over the years, but, depending on where you live, it’s hard to find a big group to watch the games with. I have also converted my sister into a fan, so at least she watches with me when I’m at home. Still, it’s like having a close friend or relative living abroad or a long-distance relationship: no matter the distance, when you are truly invested and passionate about something or someone, it makes no difference.
Several Brazilians have been hugely successful at Schalke. Why do you think that is?
I believe the club’s historical offensive game fits most Brazilian players who go to Europe well (since most of them are attacking midfielders, wingers or centre forwards). Also, the passion of the fans and the atmosphere they create at the VELTINS-Arena is something unforgettable and Brazilians love playing in front of a big and loud crowd.
Do you have an all-time favourite player?
My all-time favourite player is Klaus Fischer because of his trademark bicycle kicks.
One player (past or present) you would love to see play for Schalke is…
I would have loved to see Jari Litmanen or Ronaldo play for Schalke (as I am a big fan of both). Imagine what that great squad of the 90s could have done with either of them on the team…
How often have you been to the VELTINS-Arena?
I have been to the VELTINS-Arena three times, but never had the chance to attend a game unfortunately. In 2013, 2015 and 2017 I had trips to Germany and I was able to book visits to the Arena in both ‘13 and ‘17. In 2015 I was living in Düsseldorf and had the opportunity to watch a training session right next to the Arena and see players such as Huntelaar, Draxler and Höwedes from very close.
Finally, why would you recommend supporting Schalke?
I would definitely recommend supporting Schalke because it is a team with a lot of history, personality, identity and some of the most passionate fans in Europe. Some of the best German players in history have played at Schalke and, even though it’s been a while since our last German title, we still average over 60,000 fans at home games every season! Come to the Royal Blue side of the Ruhrgebiet!