Up, up and away for Embolo at Schalke
Summer signing Breel Embolo was a babe in arms when Schalke won the UEFA Cup in 1997, but the former Basel prodigy hopes his new coach Markus Weinzierl – and strike partner Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – can help him build towards something special in Gelsenkirchen.
UEFA.com: You have played at UEFA EURO 2016 with Switzerland and moved from Basel to Schalke this summer. Has it all sunk in yet?
Breel Embolo: Not really, but that’s the great thing about football – it’s always moving forward. You’ve got to make decisions, just like you do on the pitch.
I’ve got time on my side. I’m 19 – this is my first move abroad. I came here to play, improve and have success. But it’s important to be patient sometimes and I’m aware of that because it was the same story at Basel.
UEFA.com: How did it feel to leave Basel?
Embolo: I knew the time was right, but I will miss Basel. I grew up there and was really lucky to have so much success with that fantastic club. But every player has to make their own decisions regarding their next step. I believe Schalke are ideal for me. They’re a great club – one of the world’s biggest. They have a great team with a lot of young players, and they’ve got a new coach who I admire. I felt that they had faith in me, which was priceless.
UEFA.com: You know the UEFA Europa League from your time with Basel. How well can Schalke do in this season’s competition?
Embolo: When you look at the teams that have played in the competition over the last couple of years, you see it is anything but easy – it is full of strong teams and tight matches. There is no longer such a thing as an easy opponent. That’s a testament to how football has developed.
Schalke want to stay in the competition beyond the winter but we’ll have to take every match as it comes. I think we’ll gain in confidence if we play well domestically and if we can carry that form into the Europa League, then anything is possible. You have to take it one game and competition at a time.
UEFA.com: How have your first few weeks under Markus Weinzierl been?
Embolo: Pretty good. He’s taught us a new philosophy, which has been well received by the team. I think we’ll need to take the initiative in games. We need to be willing to control games and play on the front foot. I play up front, so I want to play attack-minded football, but attackers are also the first line of defence. We’ll need every player, including those not in the starting line-up, to put the coach’s ideas into practice and to show that mentality when it’s required.
UEFA.com: Have you received much goalscoring advice from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar?
Embolo: Of course. Klaas is a top striker who is known worldwide. When I was a boy I watched some of his games, as well as videos on YouTube. I’m certain I can learn from him, like I did from [Marco] Streller at Basel. You watch players like him and then try to improve or do things like them. But at the same time, you have to stay true to yourself and create your own style of play. The experience of training and playing alongside a striker like him will stand me in good stead.