Football Features

12 players you (probably) forgot had spells at Schalke 04

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:20, 7 August 2020

Schalke 04 can lay claim to having one of the most productive youth academies in Germany.

There’s been no better illustration than who has progressed through the system in the last 15 years or so with Manuel Neuer, Max Meyer, Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil and Leroy Sane being notable graduates.

Aside from giving youth a chance, the Gelsenkirchen-based club has also been home to some of Europe’s best players, such as Real Madrid legend Raul and evergreen Dutch marksman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

What follows, though, is no fewer than 12 players who turned out for the Royal Blues but may have slipped from your memory…

1. Michel Bastos

Senior games for Schalke 04: 16

Career path post-Schalke 04: Al-Ain, Roma, São Paulo, Palmeiras, Sport Recife, América-MG

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: None

It was during a lengthy spell at Lyon where Michel Bastos really turned heads. But as his time in France wound down he temporarily joined Schalke, where at the backend of the 2012/13 season Bastos — who finished his career with 10 international caps for Brazil — managed to register five goals across 16 outings in all competitions.

2. Ivan Rakitic

Senior games for Schalke 04: 135

Career path post-Schalke 04: Sevilla, Barcelona

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: Europa League (Sevilla), La Liga (four, Barcelona), Champions League (Barcelona), Copa del Rey (four, Barcelona), Spanish Super Cup (three, Barcelona), Uefa Super Cup (two, Barcelona).

Over the course of the 2019/20 campaign, Ivan Rakitic reached another Barcelona milestone, making his 300th appearance for the club in their 4-0 win over Real Mallorca. Now etched into the minds of many as a Barcelona man, it would be fair to say Rakitic’s time at Schalke — which spanned four seasons — is fast becoming a faded memory. Sevilla, from whom he joined Barça, and his present club are who most observers commonly associate the Croatian midfielder with, even if he is being linked with a move away.

3. Kevin Prince Boateng

Senior games for Schalke 04: 60

Career path post-Schalke 04: AC Milan, Las Palmas, Eintracht Frankfurt, Sassuolo, Barcelona, Fiorentina, Besiktas

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: DFB-Pokal (Eintracht Frankfurt), La Liga (Barcelona)

Jurgen Klopp wasn’t a happy bunny when his former Borussia Dortmund charge Kevin Prince Boateng joined their rivals in 2013 following a successful period at AC Milan.

“I’m really surprised,” Klopp said when asked about the move.

“I sent him a text message saying ‘Why Schalke?!’ with eight question marks, but I didn’t hear back from him.”

He added jokingly: “He was a good lad, up until this morning.”

However, that link-up didn’t yield any silverware, and the Boateng continued on his merry way, which famously included a pit stop at Barcelona.

4. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

Senior games for Schalke 04: 106

Career path post-Schalke 04: Stoke City, Paris Saint-Germain

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: Ligue 1 (two, Paris Saint-Germain), French Super Cup (Paris Saint-Germain), Coupe de la Ligue (Paris Saint-Germain), Coupe de France (Paris Saint-Germain)

What an interesting career Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is enjoying. Before joining Schalke – where the centre-forward scored 22 times across 106 matches – he represented Hamburg, Nuremberg and Mainz 05. Since leaving Schalke, Choupo-Moting has played in the Premier League and is now on the payroll at one of Europe’s most ambitious teams, although he will leave PSG when the 2019/20 season is complete.

5. Franco Di Santo

Senior games for Schalke 04: 88

Career path post-Schalke 04: Rayo Vallecano, Atlético Mineiro, San Lorenzo

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: None

Big things were expected of this former Chelsea youngster. After failing to make the grade at Stamford Bridge the three-time capped Argentina international enjoyed a decent career, notably winning the FA Cup with Wigan, which ultimately led to a Bundesliga move. Franco Di Santo played for Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 before plying his trade in Spain, Brazil and Argentina, where he’s currently based.

6. Christian Fuchs

Senior games for Schalke 04: 136

Career path post-Schalke 04: Leicester City

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: Premier League (Leicester City)

Another smart acquisition by Leicester City in the build up to an incredible 2015/16 season. Christian Fuchs had become a free agent following a four-year spell with Schalke in which time he made 16 appearances in the Champions League, and scored in an incredible 4-3 win away to Real Madrid, which also turned out to be Leroy Sané’s announcement party.

7. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg

Senior games for Schalke 04: 30

Career path post-Schalke 04: Southampton

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: None

Pep Guardiola had big plans for Pierre-Emile Højbjerg at Bayern Munich, unfortunately they were never realised. Before completing a permanent move to Southampton, the very talented Danish midfielder enjoyed a brief stop at Schalke 04.

8. Jermaine Jones

Senior games for Schalke 04: 185

Career path post-Schalke 04: Besiktas, New England Revolution, Colorado Rapids, Los Angeles Galaxy, Ventura County Fusion

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: None

The knowledge former US international Jermaine Jones picked up at Schalke 04, which remains the only club — from eight, including Blackburn Rovers — he has managed to make over 100 appearances for, is now paying dividends in his current role as youth director at Real So Cal.

9. Peter Løvenkrands

Senior games for Schalke 04: 61

Career path post-Schalke 04: Newcastle United, Birmingham City

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: None

After lifting two league titles at Rangers, Danish marksman Peter Løvenkrands swapped Glasgow for Gelsenkirchen, but he didn’t replicate his Scotland success in Germany and bagged only six Bundesliga goals across 44 outings. A move to Newcastle United followed before he hung up his boots at Birmingham City.

10. Émile Mpenza

Senior games for Schalke 04: 96

Career path post-Schalke 04: Standard Liège, Hamburg, Al Rayyan, Manchester City, Plymouth, FC Sion, Neftchi Baku, Eendracht Aalst

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: Azerbaijan Premier League (Neftchi Baku)

Émile Mpenza joined Manchester City just before things went up a notch and that heavily impacted on his opportunities with incoming manager Sven-Göran Eriksson opting for the likes of Rolando Bianchi and Valeri Bojinov instead of him. Long before playing in England’s top flight, the Belgian striker enjoyed a pretty successful time at Schalke in between spells at Belgian outfit Standard Liège.

11. Teemu Pukki

Senior games for Schalke 04: 47

Career path post-Schalke 04: Celtic, Bröndby, Norwich

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: Scottish Premiership (two, Celtic), Danish Cup (Bröndby)

The man who burst onto the scene in the Premier League with his goalscoring exploits for Norwich in the 2019/20 season – although it wasn’t enough to keep the Canaries up – Teemu Pukki didn’t quite make it at Celtic. You may not remember that he joined the Sottish club from Schalke, where he also struggled to regularly find the back of the net as he scored just eight goals in 47 appearances.

12. Joël Matip

Senior games for Schalke 04: 258

Career path post-Schalke 04: Liverpool

Trophies since leaving Schalke 04: UEFA Champions League (Liverpool), UEFA Super Cup (Liverpool), Premier League (Liverpool_

Often hailed as one of Jürgen Klopp’s best signings, Joël Matip opted to become a free agent when he left Schalke and signed with Liverpool prior to the 2015/16 season. He made a total of 258 appearances for Schalke, with the Bundesliga side winning the DFB-Pokal and DFL-Supercup in the seven seasons he spent with them. He was unknown to many fans during his time in Germany, but is now a household name.