Schalker International: Krista Irkle

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 Latvian supporter, Krista Irkle.

How did someone from Latvia become a Schalke fan?
It’s quite a funny story because my dad happens to be Dortmund fan! Growing up I did not take much interest in football outside of international tournaments, but then in 2017 a friend of mine started telling me about FC Schalke 04 – about the club’s traditions, the fans and I was totally sold right away. The club sounded familiar at first, however I did not realise that they were the rivals of my dad’s team. Despite that, Schalke immediately gave me that feeling of home that I never had before. Watching videos of fans supporting the team, watching old matches, reading Schalke’s history is that what made me think – yes, I want to be part of this.

What’s supporting Schalke like in Latvia?
It’s not easy getting Schalke merchandise here, but that’s made me more creative, and I’ve made my own merchandise for example my own Schalke posters. I have also made friends from all over the country because of Schalke.

Have you managed to convert any other Latvians into Royal Blues?
Yes, I actually have! A couple my friends have started supporting Schalke due to me talking about our team so often. I am determined to get more and more people from here to become Royal Blues. This is important to me especially because more and more girls and women are becoming football fans.

Can you remember the first Schalke match you watched?
I was still a child when I watched my very first Schalke match in the early 2000s – I think it was a derby. But my very first Schalke match as full-time fan was a DFB-Pokal game in 2017 vs. BFC Dynamo, which we won 0-2.

Have you ever been to Germany or the VELTINS-Arena?
I have been to Germany, but not to the VELTINS-Arena. I was supposed to attend one of our games in March, but due to travel restrictions I was not able to. Right now I am hoping that pandemic situation improves and I will be able to do my exchange semester in Germany next year so the fans can return to the stadium and I get the chance to finally experience my first match in person.

Who is your favourite all-time Schalke player?
Schalke has been the club for so many legendary players and it is something to be proud of, but my personal favourite has to be Raúl. That is a name that does not require any further questions – I am very proud that he is part of Schalke’s legacy.

What about a current player?
Mark Uth. His leadership on and off the pitch to keep the team moving no matter that happens.

What do you love about the club? What makes S04 special?
I absolutely love how Schalke goes beyond the football pitch. It gets involved in things that matter for example fighting against racism and supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Schalke is a club for its people. It has a soul, and it cares about the fans and what they have to say.

Finally, why would you recommend supporting Schalke?
Schalke is much more than just a football club. It is a feeling; it is a family. Schalke is a club that feels so personal and approachable. If you want to have a team that feels like home and you can love it unconditionally no matter where you are, Schalke is the right place for you.

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