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Olaf Thon interview

'Schalke are capable of the double'

On 2 May 1984, one of the most dramatic semi-finals in the history of the DFB Cup saw Schalke and Bayern draw 6-6 after extra time. The Royal Blues’ acclaimed hero back then was 18-year-old striker Olaf Thon, scorer of a hat-trick in that epic encounter. The clubs now meet again at the same stage of the competition 26 years on, and former Schalke and Bayern star Thon is in demand ahead of the clash. met up with the 1990 World Cup winner to discuss Wednesday’s cup tie involving his two former clubs, their Bundesliga encounter ten days later, and “by far and away the biggest and best game” of his career.

Interview: Olaf Thon Schalke v Bayern in the DFB Cup - that makes us think back to that incredible game 26 years ago. Is it the same for you?
Olaf Thon: “Yes, of course. The repeat of this fixture brings back memories of that night.” Tell us about it: What did it feel like to score a hat-trick against Bayern the day after your 18th birthday?
Thon: “It was by far and away the biggest and best game in my career. I’d celebrated my birthday as you do and tried to get myself focused on the game. But nobody could have expected what happened on the night. 6-6, I scored three goals, one with my left foot, one with my right and one with my head. I couldn’t really enjoy it at the time but, of course, I’ve been asked about it a lot since then - especially when the clubs are in a semi-final like this one.” Are you still working for Schalke?
Thon: “No. Up to last summer, I was an advisor to the board and a member of the marketing team, but after 21 years at Schalke, the time was right for a change. I took over as coach at fifth division VfB Hüls on 1 July.” Given your position as a coach, what do you think about your fellow boss Felix Magath?
Thon: “Felix has exceeded all expectations. Since the new stadium was completed, Schalke have tried to keep pace with Bayern, or at least get closer to a shot at the title. That hasn’t worked out in the past, but it’s all starting to click into place now, and they’re trying to give Bayern a run for their money. It’s incredible what Felix Magath has achieved with the team up to now. Whatever he does, whoever he puts out on the pitch, whoever he brings on as a sub – it all works. It’s going like a dream.”