Schalker International: Jad Haidar
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 Jad Haidar from Lebanon.
Tell us about your football in your home country.
I live in Lebanon, which is a very small and intimate country. It is, however, very big on football – you’d find it very hard to find someone in Lebanon who isn’t actually a football fan or willing to watch a match on the weekend. Things are slightly different in Lebanon, though, because of the lack of a great national team. International football is huge here – people introduce themselves as Italy or Germany fans instead of their club sides. For example, my brother supports the Germany national side, although he also likes Dortmund, which causes many arguments in our house. Also, Germany played a big part in Lebanese football with Roda Antar and Youssef Mohamad both playing in the Bundesliga in the past.
Why did you become a Schalke fan?
I began supporting Schalke in the 2010/11 season, even though I also like Arsenal. I was also a huge Real Madrid follower at one point, so when I saw Raul had transferred to Schalke I had to see how that would work out and I ended up actually falling in love with the whole team. I still remember players like Jefferson Farfan, Neuer, Rakitic, Draxler and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar from that squad – it was really a fun season. The first match I remember watching that season was the semi-final of DFB-Pokal. We didn’t have many channels that aired German football. The only ones that were shown were big matches and UCL matches. But that semi-final match was something I’m glad I was able to watch, my brother was fully anti-Schalke at that point so when Raul scored that goal I was totally ecstatic.
Do you have a favourite S04 match?
My favourite Schalke match would have to be the 4-4 draw with Dortmund, I remember at the end of that first half actually turning off the TV and planning on not watching the rest, before coming back 20 minutes later feeling I had to see it out until the end. I’m glad I did because it was absolutely brilliant. Even though it was only a draw, the comeback was really thrilling.
What about an all-time favourite player?
Now that’s a hard question. There are many players that I really connected with, such as Meyer, Draxler, Höwedes, Amine Harit (with him being Arabian), the previously mentioned Raul, Leon Goretzka and many more. However, the answer will always be Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. He was a very underrated striker overall in football, albeit not by Schalke fans. He was absolutely deadly and always looked comfortable on the pitch.
Walking into that amazing stadium is definitely something I want to do.
What do you love about the club? What makes S04 special?
What made Schalke special for me is something I can’t describe, even though in reality I started watching for one player. I ended up following the club even after Raul had left. I felt like I had established a connection with this team and it gave me some amazing moments so far. Nothing has yet matched up to the win of the DFB-Pokal but I remember moments in recent history like beating Real Madrid and getting close to enough to actually eliminating them from the Champions League.
What’s supporting Schalke like in Lebanon? Do you know any other Royal Blues there?
Supporting Schalke in Lebanon isn’t exactly easy. I am yet to meet anyone who also supports the Royal Blues, and most people who support a German team go for Bayern and in some cases Dortmund.
One player (past or present) you would love to see play for Schalke is…
I mentioned before I’m an Arsenal fan so I would be remiss if I don’t romanticise the idea that Mesut Özil makes his return to the VELTINS-Arena or players like Meyer and Draxler find their way back. However, I’ve always been a sucker for a great creative midfielder so Kevin De Bruyne wearing the Royal Blue would be great to see.
Have you ever been to Gelsenkirchen or Germany? Do you have any plans to go in the future?
I have never been to Germany, however I do plan on going there at some point. Visiting Gelsenkirchen is definitely on my bucket list. Walking into that amazing stadium is definitely something I want to do, especially if I could see the tunnel – that’s something I want to experience firsthand.
Finally, why would you recommend supporting Schalke?
Even when the club is having a tough time, you still have moments that make it all worth it. An amazing match, an amazing run, something great.