Schalker International: John Romelle Soriano

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 Filipino supporter, John Romelle Soriano.

How did you become a Schalke fan?
I became a fan when I was 13 years old, it was during the 1997 UEFA Cup when the club won against Inter Milan. I fell in love with Schalke because everyone kept saying they weren’t supposed to win, Inter were a great team but my club showed incredible heart to take home the trophy. But what captivated me was the fans, the incredible supporters who travel with the club to march, sing and give their all for the team – I have never seen anything like it.

What’s it like supporting Schalke in the Philippines?
The Philippines is a basketball country, even those who follow football mostly like the big clubs like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester United etc. Supporting Schalke in the Philippines has its challenges, one is the time difference – usually kick-off times here are 9pm or 10pm and for the Europa or Champions League games it’s 3am.

Is your daughter really called Schalke? How hard was it convince your wife?
Yes, her name is simply… Schalke Soriano. It wasn’t difficult to convince my wife, KC. When we started dating, I immediately told her that Schalke is my life I told her how much a club thousands of miles away means so much to me and she was fascinated by my passion and loyalty. Before she even got pregnant, we agreed that our first born will be named Schalke.

I fell in love with Schalke in 1997 and after Schalke was born it was love at first sight all over again. And now I can really say that Schalke is my life…

Is your wife now a proper Royal Blue too?
My wife is very supportive in everything I do. She sometimes stays up late with me to watch games, listens to my Schalke stories and she even agreed to wear Schalke kits during our pre-wedding photoshoot. I can say that since I’m a Royal Blue, our daughter is a Royal Blue, she definitely is one too.

You’ve got several Schalke shirts – do you have a favourite?
My favourite shirt is the one with “Raul” on the back as he is one of my favourite players. It was also given to me as a gift by my mother. Raul is such a charismatic player and even though he only stayed for two seasons, you can tell how much he loves the club and the fans!

What makes Schalke so special?
Schalke is special for me as they are not perfect. It’s so easy to support a club who always wins, who always dominates, who has the best players in the world – but that’s not for me. I don’t find that “fun” at all. Anybody can be a Bayern fan or a Juventus fan, it takes real heart to support Schalke. Win, lose or draw – I know I will have a weekend or a game to look forward to and with one magical goal or save the happiness I feel is truly special.

What’s your favourite ever Schalke match?
There’s a lot of games I love, the 1997 UEFA Cup win, the first leg of the quarterfinals against Inter in the 2011 Champions League, the 4-4 comeback in the derby. But my favourite has to be the 2004 1-0 win in the derby – the saves by Rost were incredible (I can still remember the handball, the card, the save and the shouting!) and the winner was scored by my favourite player of all time, Ebbe Sand!

Have you ever been to watch Schalke or to Germany?
Not yet but it has always been my dream. The feeling I get when the match is just about to begin, the first whistle, the first goal and closing minutes – they all give me chills and excitement and I’m sure the feeling will be much better when I get to watch them live with all the other fans. My dream is still the same: to see an Schalke game live. But now I want to see it with my wife and with my daughter.

Finally, why would you recommend supporting Schalke?
If you’re looking for a club with a legendary tradition, incredible fans, and an academy that rivals the biggest clubs, then Schalke is the club you want to support. Football for me is about camaraderie, friendship and family! I live in an island where football is not popular, yet when I go online to talk to other Schalke fans across the world, I feel an incredible sense of belongingness, it’s such a great feeling that I want to share to others.

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