Sascha, what would you have said a year ago if we had told you that we’d be doing this interview right now with you in this new job?
I probably would have laughed or been a bit confused as this job didn’t exist this time last year! Looking back, things have gone quite well for me, and I also think that the club is benefiting from my work too.
Things happened quite quickly in June. You had just finished your playing career and gone on holiday, before Jochen Schneider rang you up. Did you need some time to think things through?
Nope. It all happened so fast. Jochen asked me and I said I wanted to do it before he could even finish his sentence.
What did your wife say? Was she actually happy that you were carrying on your involvement in football?
My original plan after my playing career ended was for us to do some travelling together – I know she would have liked to do that. She backed my decision once Jochen rang me up as she has grown to love the club as much as I have over the past few years. She fully supports me and is happy that Schalke is still a big part of our lives.
Jochen asked me and I said I wanted to do it before he could even finish his sentence.
Your old teammates gifted you a pinball machine after you retired. Have you had time to play on it yet?
We first used it right after the season ended. It was a present that meant a lot to me from the team. My wife and I play on it in the basement if we have the time. We always have close games.
Does it feel strange to be going into the office instead of the changing rooms?
I walk through the changing rooms now and again and go and stand at my old spot. Fabian Reese has is now – and he took over my squad number 21. I jokingly say to him that this spot carries a great responsibility (laughs). Jokes aside, it’s definitely very different to not be there anymore. Nevertheless, I really enjoy my new job. I’m always happy when I arrive in the morning.
Has your relationship with your former teammates changed?
Not really. As a player I was always happy to speak to the lads about anything. The younger players could always come to me if they had a problem or needed some advice. Obviously I’m in a new role now, but the guys know that they can still trust me.
We’ve had great chemistry since day one.
How do the players address you?
I’m still known as just Sascha. I remember my first ‘Schalke Tag’ in 2015. I was playing table football with a fan and he told me to be less formal as we were ‘auf Schalke’. I found that great.
Jochen Schneider recently said that you are one of the best signings he has ever made. What do you think about such praise?
He hasn’t told me that! It’s nice to hear that though. I think everybody likes receiving praise like that. I’m happy to return the compliments as well! Jochen has managed to find a coach and management team that fit perfectly to Schalke.
David Wagner, Jochen Schneider and the rest of the management team didn’t know each beforehand. Despite that, it comes across like you have all been good friends for years. How have you all become so close?
We’ve had great chemistry since day one. We ate out together a few days ago and actually spoke about this. Some colleagues simply can’t get on at some clubs, but thankfully that’s not the case here. It’s a very pleasant atmosphere here. That’s mainly because every individual is a team player and sees themselves as part of a group. Nobody demands the limelight.