Schalker International: Vyacheslav Avramenko
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 Russian supporter, Vyacheslav Avramenko.
How did you become a Schalke fan?
There is a theory that we don’t choose a club, but that the club chooses us. It is like a family: if Royal Blue blood flows through your veins, it stays forever. But actually, I chose Schalke consciously, as I have been watching football since 2002 and my love of the club from Gelsenkirchen only started in 2010. I have always ranked German football higher than the other leagues because of its fascinating game, beautiful goals and full stadiums. I had to decide who to support, and in the end, I chose Schalke. There are several reasons for it: firstly, it was the interesting squad with such strong players like Huntelaar, Raul, Neuer, Farfan, Höwedes. At the time, the head coach of Schalke was Felix Magath and for me, taking account of the previous success, the whole project looked very appealing. Additionally, this club has a strong youth academy, which regularly delivers promising players, and a huge army of fans. And I know it’s not very original, but blue is my favourite colour.
What’s supporting Schalke like in Russia?
A lot football fans in Russia support foreign clubs. Nobody questions the fans of Real Madrid, Liverpool, Juventus or other clubs. So why should the fans of German clubs be something unusual? To be an FC Bayern fan is too easy – it’s like listening to pop music – it’s what everybody is doing. Being a punk, I decided to support Schalke. Of course, for many people it looks like an unusual choice, and when somebody sees me wearing Schalke merchandise, they start to ask me a lot of questions. But I love not being like others.
Do you know other Schalke fans from Russia?
Sure, I know some. In 2015, we even founded the fan club Russische Knappen (Russian Knappen), which is the only official fan club in Russia. We are very active on social media: we make videos, competitions, talk to each other in chats and organise meetings. We have even participated in a tournament among the Russian fan clubs, where there were also teams like Bayern, Dortmund and Tottenham. Thanks to the friendship with other fans, I’m a happy person.
Do you have a favourite Schalke game?
There are several and I don’t think I’ll be the only person who chooses these games. My first one would be the 5–2 against Inter in the quarterfinals of the Champions League – it was the moment when everyone in Europe heard about Schalke. I was so proud in front of my friends! Then there’s the DFB-Pokal final against Duisburg (5–0) – the last time the Knappen won a major title. The heroic game against Real (4–3), when we almost went through. And of course, the derby against Dortmund (4–4), when we pulled off a comeback after a hopeless first half.
Have you ever been to the VELTINS-Arena?
Not yet, but my dream is to visit the VELTINS-Arena and one day it will come true. I have, however, already seen Schalke twice – again thanks to our fan club. We got together for the match against Krasnodar in the Europa League in 2016. We also watched the Lokomotiv Moscow match together in the Champions League in 2018. We won both games 1–0, and we were in the away end and celebrated goals together with fans who came from Germany and other countries. Many Russians also thought that we were foreign fans.
Your favourite all-time Schalke player?
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. It just so happened that he was my idol long before his first spell in the Bundesliga. He was truly one of the most promising strikers in world football. I saw him scoring some great goals, and lots of them too. At Schalke he felt right at home, became a leader and was a symbol of the club for many seasons. He also won the Golden Boot as Bundesliga top scorer. This winter, Huntelaar is back to try and help rescue our beloved club from the difficult situation it finds itself in – staring relegation from the top flight in the face. I hope his strong character and great experience will be of use in these difficult times, and his goals will help keep Schalke in the Bundesliga, and that he will also be able to provide Matthew Hoppe with some useful advice and tips. I would also like to hope that, even after the end of his playing career, the Dutchman might be able to continue to play a role at Schalke.
What do you like the most about this club? What makes Schalke so special?
The club is special because it can get through tough times. I am sure that Schalke can cope with any problem – it’s still one of the best clubs in Germany. It’s a club with great tradition and history. A huge number of fans from all over the world won’t turn their back on the team in hard times. Schalke has an amazing academy too; young and talented players regularly play for the club – it is good to watch at team that educates such great players.
And finally, why would you recommend supporting Schalke?
You can’t force love of a football club, but if anyone is interested, I would definitely recommend joining us. It’s more fun together!