Omar, you were named vice-captain by the coach at the start of the season. How has that changed your role within the team at all?
I was extremely happy that the coach chose me as one of the captains. At the time, it was a bit of a surprise, because last season was a difficult one for me. But, I had a feeling during pre-season that I would be able to help out the team a lot this season. Right away, I could also feel the support from the new coaching staff. When the coach told me that Benjamin Stambouli and I would be the two vice-captains, it was a big step for me. I told myself that this would be my season, and so far, everything is going pretty well, which makes me happy.
How would you describe the team spirit within the squad right now?
Overall, there are several things this season that are working better than they did last year. It’s a tight-knit team and the mood is very good. I know that I have an important role within the team, and I also get along extremely well with my teammates.
We’re playing with a new formation this season, one which complements my abilities.
Can you explain the difference in your performance this season?
One deciding factor is that I can feel the trust that the coaching staff has in me, which has helped me gain a lot of self-confidence. When players believe in themselves, then they are able to deliver stronger performances. At the same time, I’m enjoying the way we’re playing this season. We’re playing with a new formation this season, one which complements my abilities. I work hard every day in order to keep up at this level, and to get even better.
You often allow yourself to drop deep and are responsible for helping to build up play. Is that something that you practice often in training?
It’s something that’s relatively new for me, as I’ve not done it often prior to this season. I feel comfortable in my role, and in helping to build up the play. We have a lot more possession than we did last season. I enjoy being the link between the centre-backs and our midfield and being able to help the team out in this manner.
The coach tends to play with a diamond formation in midfield. Do you like this formation or would you prefer having another defensive midfielder at your side?
I like the diamond, and I feel at home playing as a defensive midfielder. I played that same position in Frankfurt and delivered good performances. But, I also enjoy having another defensive midfielder next to me, such as Suat Serdar or Weston McKennie, for example. Currently, we’ve been playing more with one defensive midfielder and it’s a position that I’ve been able to fill with a lot of self-confidence.
The Bundesliga is currently on pause due to the international break. As a player, do you enjoy having the opportunity to catch your breath, or would you rather be playing next weekend with Schalke?
Sometimes, it’s good to have a break, but this is the third one in three months. We would all rather be playing for Schalke on the weekend, as we’re in form at the moment. But, at the same time, it’s also important to give your mind and body a rest and to maybe take some time with your family and friends. That way we’ll have energy to tackle our upcoming matches.
It’s a childhood dream of mine to play for Spain one day.
You’re in the midst of a strong season, and are proving your worth. Are you hoping that Spain head coach Robert Moreno will call you up for the Selección one day?
It’s a childhood dream of mine to play for Spain. I hope that it will one day come true.
The weather in Germany has turned cold and rainy. Does it make you miss the Canary Islands at all?
Yes, quite a lot actually, but that has nothing to do with the weather. The Canary Islands are my home, that’s where my friends and family are. But, I’m very happy here in Germany and feel at home both within the city and the club. When my career eventually comes to an end, I’ll have the rest of my life to return to Spain.
You have yet to score a goal for Schalke – when will that change?
I sometimes have to listen to my teammates bug me about the same thing (laughs). I can’t wait to score my first goal for Schalke. But, the most important thing for me is to help the team win games. There are several teammates who line up in front of me – if you ask me; they are welcome to score every weekend. That will please me just as much.