presented by
On the road, part 9

Oliver Kahn’s memories of Schalke 04

At the age of 38 and with two decades as a pro already under his belt, Oliver Kahn is nearing the end of a long and successful sporting career. The three-time World Goalkeeper of the Year has made more than 500 Bundesliga appearances, half of them on opponents' home turf. Before each of his last 17 Bundesliga away trips, presents Kahn's memories of previous visits to the ground in question, as the giant keeper recalls unusual incidents and oddball situations, but also moments of sporting drama and emotion. The ninth visit is to Schalke.

Kahn's memories of Schalke 04:

“Schalke 04? Anything memorable about them (laughs)? Although it had nothing to do with me playing in Gelsenkirchen, the most powerful memory connected with Schalke 04 is obviously our last-minute championship triumph in 2000-2001. Schalke were famously champions for four minutes, but Patrik Andersson’s stoppage-time free-kick in Hamburg fired us to the title instead.

Otherwise, Schalke’s not been a great place for us, and that goes for me personally too. We occasionally came away with something from the old Parkstadion, but since S04 moved to their new Arena, we’ve always had it tough. I’ve only won there with Germany, and a couple of weeks ago in the Cup when Wuppertaler SV borrowed the stadium. We came close once though, two years ago in 2005-6, when we were 1-0 up but conceded the equaliser from a penalty in the last minute.

Schalke have basically taken the role Kaiserslautern used to play for us. Back then, Paul Breitner once famously said we wouldn’t bother going there any more, we’ll just send them the points in the post. The rivalry between Schalke and Bayern has increased in recent years, which I think dates back to the last day of 2001 and still characterises the fixture today.

The worst result from our point of view was the 5-1 defeat in the first meeting after the drama of 2001. It was the first game against us in the new Arena, Schalke were totally fired up that day, they were still hurt and wounded. And the Arena crowd are always intimidating, it’s part and parcel of it all. Tempers are always at boiling point in Gelsenkirchen and it’s never for the faint-hearted, which is reflected in the number of bookings and sendings-off down the years.

One little anecdote occurs to me: as far as I know, I’m still the only man to hit the video cube suspended over the centre-circle, which I did with a kick from hand in our 1-0 defeat three years ago. In conclusion, I know you can’t always have it your own way in football, but obviously it would be sensational if I could bid farewell to Gelsenkirchen on the back of a win.“

Next stop: Cottbus

(Oliver Kahn was unable to play in the away trips to Bochum, Dortmund and Berlin with injury and a club suspension – Ed.)