Schalker International: Oliver Engel
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 long-time supporter living in Thailand, Oliver Engel.
How did you become a Schalke fan?
I was born in Ratingen near Düsseldorf and most of my friends were Fortuna Düsseldorf or Mönchengladbach fans. My father was a Fortuna fan and we went to watch a game against Schalke in the Rheinstadion and I loved the atmosphere and support from the away team and the blue and white colours (since then, those are my favourite colours). I can remember collecting Panini football stickers from teams and players from the Bundesliga and I collected them from Schalke, players like Norbert Nigbur, Enver Maric, Rüssmann, the Kremers brothers, Klaus Fischer etc. – I must have been about seven or eight years old at the time.
Can you remember the first game you watched on TV?
I watched all the games at the beginning of the 70s and remember games against Bayern München, Dortmund, Gladbach, Düsseldorf.
Do you have a favourite S04 match?
My favourite matches are the 6-6 DFB Pokal match against Bayern München, which I watched at home on TV, and the 1997 UEFA Cup final at Inter Milan, which I attended live. That was also the last match I watched in person before I emigrated to Thailand in January 1998. I also enjoyed the match in Dortmund in December 1997, where Jens Lehmann scored to make it 2-2 with a header, and of course the 4-4 draw in Dortmund, which I watched live from Thailand.
What do you love about the club?
I love the atmosphere wherever Schalke plays, internationally too. The fans are always supporting the team and there’s a real family feeling.
What makes S04 special?
The fans and the support. We stick together in good and bad times.
What’s supporting Schalke like in Thailand? Do you know any other Royal Blues there?
Most German and Thai football fans are Bayern fans, so it’s not always easy as a Schalke fan. Most Thai fans tend to support more successful teams from around Europe, who have less tradition and passion. When I came to Thailand 22 years ago, almost nobody knew Schalke. When I said I support Schalke, they thought I meant Chelsea! But after we won the UEFA Cup, more people got to know Schalke. Some of my German friends here are Schalke fans and some Thai ones are too (hello to KizerSorn Sornchai!)
What’s football like in Thailand?
I think it’s great that after every match, whether it’s a Thai league match or an international game, the fans are always supporting, cheering and enjoying the games, even if they lost. Both teams do this and show a lot of respect to one another. I think the Bundesliga could learn from this.
Do you have an all-time favourite player?
Klaus Fischer or Ebbe Sand.
One player (past or present) you would love to see play for Schalke is…
Have you been to the VELTINS-Arena? If so, how often?
I went to the Parkstadion on many occasions and have also been to the VELTINS-Arena a lot too. I was last in Europe and Germany nine years ago and watched us play against Freiburg, Hertha and in Europe – we won all three! I try to watch almost all Schalke games now live on TV, even if it’s 6am. I’m often going to sleep when my family is waking up.
Finally, why would you recommend supporting Schalke?
In these difficult times, it’s not that easy to recommend supporting Schalke. These days it’s all about trophies, money and success, but you have to live and feel Schalke and see the support for the team wherever they go. I’m proud of supporting the team and everyone can see who I support – I’m always dressed in blue and white, my motorbike has loads of Schalke stickers and even my house is blue too!
If someone wants to be a part of the big Schalke family and understand our passion, everybody is welcome…