Schalker International: Sotos Balabanis
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 Sotos Balabanis from Greece.
How did you become a Schalke fan?
When I was young, my dad’s best friend talked to me about a German club which played very attractive football. We watched some games together and I started to get excited about the team. Suddenly, he passed away so I decided to keep watching Schalke for the rest of my life. I became more interested game after game and eventually I became a ‘real’ fan who watches every single match.
Are Schalke famous in Greece? Do we have many fans there?
Here in Greece, Schalke aren’t as popular as other German clubs, like Bayern or Dortmund, but everyone knows the club and has a lot of respect for us.
Have you ever been to the VELTINS-Arena or seen Schalke play?
Unfortunately, I haven’t made it to Gelsenkirchen yet but I did watch us play PAOK here in Thessaloniki and we won 3-0 back in 2017.
When the whole pandemic comes to an end, I will definitely visit to watch a home game. That’s always been a dream of mine.
When the whole pandemic comes to an end, I will definitely visit to watch a home game.
Do you have an all-time favourite Schalke player?
Many players over the years have impressed me and I couldn’t pick out just one. My favourites were Kevin Kuranyi, Benedikt Höwedes, Jefferson Farfan and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Also, I liked Kyriakos Papadopoulos because he is Greek, which meant I kept an eye on him more.
What’s your most memorable Schalke match?
It would be between that famous 4-3 win in Madrid and the victory in Milan where we scored 5 goals!
What makes Schalke a special club?
Our club is special for thousands of reasons. The main one is that we have supporters that stay by our side whatever happens.
Finally, why would you recommend becoming a Schalke fan?
I strongly recommend supporting Schalke because of our spirit. If we fall down seven times, we will get up eight times and that fighting spirit is something you can’t find anywhere else.