Tuesday, October 11, 2016

FC Schalke 04 Greatest All-Time Team

UEFA Cup in 1997

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Bayern MunichBorussia Dortmund,
Borussia MönchengladbachSchalke 04Werder Bremen,
Hamburger SVKaiserslauternBayer Leverkusen
FC KolnVfB StuttgartEintracht FrankfurtWolfsburg.
North Rhine-Westphalia

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

Founded in 1904, Schalke has won seven German championships, five DFB-Pokals, one DFL-Supercup and one UEFA Cup(1997).  The "04" in the club's name derives from its formation in 1904. Schalke has long been one of the most popular professional football teams and multi-sports club in Germany.

Schalke has long been one of the most popular professional football teams and multi-sports club in Germany, even though the club's heyday was in the 1930s and 1940s. Schalke play in the Bundesliga, the top tier of the German football league system. As of June 2018, the club has 155,000 members, making it the second-largest sports club in Germany
1958 League Champion
GK: Manuel Neuer (Germany)
Neuer established as Germany's number 1 before the World Cup Finals in 2010.  Since then, he has been considered one of the best keeper in the world. He helped Germany winning their 4th World Cup in 2014. In 2014, Neuer finished third in the voting, behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, for the FIFA Ballon d'Or award.  He started with Schalke 04, but moved to rival Bayern Munich in 2010. He is the second most expensive keeper of all-time.
Manuel Neuer
GK: Jens Lehmann  (Germany)
Jens Lehmann was voted UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year for the 1996–97 and 2005–06 seasons, and was selected for three World Cup squads. He was a member of Arsenal's Invincibles, playing every match of their famous unbeaten title winning season. He also holds the UEFA Champions League record for the most consecutive clean sheets, having not conceded a goal in 10 matches whilst at Arsenal.

GK: Norbert Nigbur (Germany)
Nigbur joined FC Schalke 04, from tiny SV Gelsenkirchen 06 in 1966, playing 456 matches in the Bundesliga for Schalke and Hertha BSC in between 1966 and 1983.  His biggest success on club level was the DFB-Pokal trophy with hometown side Schalke 04 in 1972. In the 1980s, Nigbur played for teams as VfB Hüls, Rot-Weiss Essen and FC Luthenberg outside the top two German divisions. He was capped on six occasions by West Germany, and was a member of the West German squad at the 1974 FIFA World Cup

RB: Hans Nowak (Germany)
While playing for FC Bayern Munich, he won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1967. Nowak became notable for being the first attacking Fullback in German football. Between September 1961 and November 1964, Nowak was the standard right back of West Germany, starting in 15 out of 20 international games during that period.

RB: Yves Eigenrauch (Germany)
Yves Eigenrauch was born in Minden, North Rhine-Westphalia. After beginning his career with Arminia Bielefeld in 1988, he went on to spend twelve years with FC Schalke 04, being regularly used during nine of his first ten. He contributed with eight games in the club's victorious run in the UEFA Cup in 1996–97.

SW: Klaus Fichtel (Germany)
Klaus Fichtel played for FC Schalke 04 between1965 and 1980.  Then, he played for four years with SV Werder Bremen between 1980 and 1984, but he returned to Schalke 04 in 1984. In total he played 552 games (14 goals) in the Bundesliga. Fichtel won 23 caps with West Germany between 1967 and 1971.  He was a part of the West German squad at the 1970 FIFA World Cup, playing in five matches during the tournament.
Klaus Fichtel
CB: Rolf Rüssmann (Germany)
Rolf Rüssmann played for FC Schalke 04 between 1969 and 1973. He was linked to a match fixing scandal with Schalke which forced him to leave for Club Brugge in 1973.  He retuned to Schalke a year later.  He also played for Borussia Dortmund. The match fixing scandal limited him to 20 caps.  He did not receive his first cap until 1977, despite being a candidate since 1971. He played in the World Cup Finals in 1978. 

CB: Willi Schulz (Germany)
Willi Schulz was one of the best center-backs in the world during the 1960's.  He played 66 times for West Germany between 1959 and 1970. He was the starting sweeper in the 1966 World Cup Finals in England.  He also went to the World Cup Finals 4 years later in Mexico, but was injured.  Helmut Schon preferred Beckenbauer as a midfielder while he played as a sweeper. He started with Schalke 04 in 1960.  From 1965 to 1973, he played for Hamburger SV.

CB:  Marcelo Bordon  (Brazil)
Between 2004 and July 2010 he played for Bundesliga side Schalke 04. He joined the club for a €2.6 million transfer fee from VfB Stuttgart. There, he formed a formidable central defence alongside Mladen Krstajić that earned him the role as team captain from the 2006–07 season until the summer of 2010. Although not a regular for the Brazilian national side, he was part of the team that won the 2004 Copa América.

CB/LB: Benedikt Höwedes (Germany)
Höwedes spent the majority of his playing career for Schalke 04, which he captained for six seasons.  He played for them between 2007 and 2018.  He spent a seaosn on loan to Juventus and then he played two seasons with Lokomotiv Moscow before his retirement.  In total, he was capped 44 times for Germany between 2011 and 2017.  he played every minute of the 2014 World Cup Finals.  He also went to the 2012 European Championship.
Benedikt Höwedes 
LB:  Helmut Kremers  (Germany)
Helmut Kremers won his first of two DFB-Pokal trophies with then lower league side Kickers Offenbach in 1970. In 1971, he had joined FC Schalke 04 together with his twin brother Erwin. He was able to lift the trophy for a second time. He was capped 8 times between 1973 and 1975.  Kremers was part of the 1974 FIFA World Cup winning squad.

CM/SW: Olaf Thon (Germany)
Olaf Thon started his career with Schalke 04 in 1983.  He moved to Bayern Munich in 1988, where he stayed until 1994.  He returned to Schalke 04. He was a part of the team that won the UEFA Cup in 1997.   Thon was capped 52 times for both West Germany and Germany.  He won the World Cup in 1990, starting in the game against England in the semifinal.  He also went to the Euro 1988 and the World Cup Finals in both 1986 and 1998. 
Olaf Thon
CM: Herbert Burdenski (Germany)
Herbert Burdenski began his football career with the Erle 08 in Gelsenkirchen. In 1935 he was discovered playing in the local school championships by Ernst Kuzorra, who signed him to FC Schalke 04. There he became a part of the Schalker team, achieving both the 1940 and 1942 the German championship. He was capped 5 times before and after the War.  

CM: Fritz Szepan (Germany)
Szepan is one of Germany's greatest midfielder.  He played in both 1934 and 1938 World Cup Finals.  In 1938, Szepan was named captain of the "Unified Germany" team shortly after the Anschluss at the 1936 World Cup Finals. He was also the captain of the 1934 team. He played his entire career with Schalke 04 from 1925 and 1950.  He was voted as the club's greatest ever player.  He formed a famous a partnership with Ernst Kuzorra at the club.

RW: Stan Libuda (Germany)
Stan Libuda played for FC Schalke 04 from 1961 until 1976 with two interruptions: from 1965 until 1968 he played for Borussia Dortmund, and 1972–73 for RC Strasbourg.  He was a major factor in Borussia Dortmund's 1966 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup championship. He scored the final goal against Liverpool F.C. to earn a 2–1 extra time victory for Dortmund.  He was capped 26 times, and he was a part of the team that finished third in the 1970 FIFA World Cup.
Stan Libuda
LM: Manfred Kreuz (Germany)
Born in Gelsenkirchen, Manfred Kreuz started with SC Hassel, but mainly played for his hometown club Schalke 04. As a player of FC Schalke 04, Manfred Kreuz played 135 league matches (42 goals) from 1956 to 1963 in the Oberliga West and from 1963 to 1968 in the Bundesliga,  He played more than 83 league games with 16 goals. In 1958 he won the German football league with Schalke 04.

AM: Heinz Kördell (Germany)
In 1956, Heinz Kördell joined the Schalke team from SpVgg Röhlinghausen. and won the German championship in 1958. For six years, he played at Schalke, before joining Schwarz-Weiß Essen in 1962. In German Oberliga West (then the highest division in German football) he scored 19 goals in 103 matches. He was capped once in 1958 in a match against Egypt.

AM: Ingo Anderbrügge (Germany)
Anderbrügge started playing professionally with Borussia Dortmund, making his Bundesliga debut in 1984.  In 1988, he moved to FC Schalke 04, then in the second division, where he stayed until 1999.  He was a part of their 1997 UEFA winning team.  He was voted into Schalke 04 Team of the Century.  He played briefly for Sportfreunde Siegen before retiring.

FW: Marc Wilmots (Belgium)
Marc Wilmots went to 4 World Cup Finals(1990, 1994, 1998, 2002), scoring 5 goals for Belgium.  He also played at Euro 2000. With five goals, he is Belgium's all-time top scorer at the World Cup.  At the club level, he won the 1996 UEFA Cup with Schalke 04.  He also played for Sint-Truiden, Mechelen and Standard Liège. During his time with Schalke, the fans there gave him the affectionate nickname "Das Kampfschwein" (The War Pig).
Marc Wilmots

ST: Klaus Fischer (Germany)
Fischer made 535 Bundesliga appearances for TSV 1860 München, FC Schalke 04, 1. FC Köln and VfL Bochum. With Schalke 04,  he won the German Cup in 1972. Schalke 04 were one of the clubs involved in a bribery scandal in season 1970–71 of the Bundesliga. As one of the players involved, Fischer received a one-year ban.  Capped 45 times for West Germany.  He also scored a famous bicycle kick goal in extra time in the 1982 World Cup semi-finals against France.
Klaus Fischer

ST: Rüdiger Abramczik (Germany)
Rüdiger Abramczik was best remembered for his career with Schalke 04 between 1972 and 1980.  When he made his debut in 1972,  he became the youngest ever player used on Bundesliga level at that time. He also played with Borussia Dortmund, FC FC Nürnberg and Galatasaray.  He was capped 19 times.  He went to the 1978 World Cup Finals in Argentina.

ST/RW: Bernhard Klodt (Germany)
Between 1950 and 1959, Bernhard Klodt played 19 times and scored three goals for the West Germany national football team. He was part of the 1954 World Cup-winning squad, and also played in the 1958 World Cup. For his club career, he played for FC Schalke 04. He debuted in the senior team on 14 March 1943 at the age of 16, when FC Schalke 04 beat VfL Bochum by 10–1.

ST: Ernst Kuzorra  (Germany)
During his entire career, Ernst Kuzorra played for Schalke 04, whom he led to six national championships and one national cup between 1923 to 1950. He is commonly regarded as the greatest Schalke player of all time alongside his brother-in-law Fritz Szepan. He was one of the main axes of what became known as the "Schalker Kreisel". A highly athletic, technical and prolific forward, Kuzorra is also commonly regarded as one of the greatest German forwards before the War.  He was only capped 12 times.
Ernst Kuzorra 

ST: Ebbe Sand (Denmark)
Sand played as a striker for Brøndby IF in Denmark and FC Schalke 04 in Germany. He was the German Bundesliga top scorer in 2001, and he won the DFB-Pokal in 2001 and 2002 with Schalke. He represented the Denmark national football team at the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cup, as well as the 2000 and 2004 European Championships. At the 1998 World Cup, he scored the fastest-ever World Cup goal by a substitute – 16 seconds after entering the match.

ST: Raul (Spain)
Raul was probably the best Spanish player in the late 1990's.  He made his debut with Real Madrid as a 17 years old.  He won 3 Champions' League trophies with Real Madrid in 1998, 2000 and 2002.  He is also the most capped player in the history of the club with 741 appearances. He moved to Germany in 2010 and played with Schalke 04, where he became a popular player. He is the fourth highest goal scorer in the history of La Liga with 228 goals.  For Spain, he scored a then-record 44 goals in 102 appearances.  
Honorable Mention 
Bernard Dietz (Germany), Adolf Urban (Germany), Hans Klodt (Germany), Hermann Eppenhoff (Germany), Ernst Kalwitzki (Germany), Jiří Němec (Czech Republic), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Netherlands), Kevin Kuranyi (Germany), Thomas Linke (Germany), Gerald Asamoah (Germany), Andreas Muller (Germany), Hans-Jürgen Wittkamp (Germany), Benedikt Höwedes (Germany), Hans Bongartz (Germany), Herbert Lütkebohmert (Germany), Mike Büskens (Germany), Erwin Kremers (Germany), Otto Tibulski (Germany), Jörg Böhme (Germany), Branko Oblak (Yugoslavia), Emile Mpenza (Belgium), Youri Mulder (Netherlands).

Squad Explanation
-- The UEFA Cup victory over Inter Milan is the club's most important trophy.  The following players from that team are selected into this all-time team: Jen Lehmann, Marc Wilmots, Ingo Anderbrügge  and Yves Eigenrauch.
-- In 2017, the official Bundesliga website came up Schalke 04 Best XI: Jen Lehmann, Benedikt Höwedes, Marcelo Bordon, Olaf Thon, Klaus Fichtel, Ingo Anderbrügge, Marc Wilmots, Gerald Asamoah, Raul, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Klaus Fischer.  My blog was created in 2016.  Their players were from the Bundesliga, but my team consisted the entire history of the club.  Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Gerald Asamoah did not make my team, but I have selected them as honorable mention in 2016.
--In 2000, the Schalker Jahrhundertelf  "Team of the Century"  included the following players: Norbert Nigbur, Ross Russmann, Olaf Thon, Klaus Fichtel, Marc Wilmots, Fritz Szepan, Ingo Anderbrügge, Klaus Fischer, Stan Libuda, Rüdiger Abramczik and Ernst Kuzorra.
-- Manuel Neuer played well for Schalke 04 before he switched to Bayern Munich.  Norbert Nigbur are among the top all-time appearance record holders for the club.   Then, I selected Jen Lehmann who was a famous goalkeeper.  By contrast, Hans Klodt was much lesser known than the ones I just mentioned.  
-- Klaus Fichtel had two separated stints with the club.  He was also among the top all-time appearance record holders for the club.   
-- Marcelo Bordon (Brazil) is often listed among Schalke 04's greatest defender.  He does not have the name recognition as Thomas Linke or Bernard Dietz, largely due to the lack of exposure outside the Bundesliga.  He only had a single cap for Brazil.  I had no room for Linke and Dietz.
Marcelo Bordon and Manuel Neuer 
--  Bernard Dietz's career was defined by Duisburg.  Besides, Schalke 04 already had Willi Schulz.  So I put him on honorable mention. Willi Schulz set the standard for German sweeper in the 1960's. He did leave the club after it finished in the bottom of Bundesliga. He joined Hamburger SV for allegedly a huge sum. 
-- Benedikt Höwedes was making a strong case for one of the central defender's spots.  In July 2021, I replaced Tomaz Waldoch with him.  
-- Waldoch has played for Górnik Zabrze in Poland before heading to Germany. He played with VfL Bochum, Schalke 04 and Jagiellonia Białystok in his club career.  He captained Schalke 04 winning two German cups. At the international level, he played for the Polish national team, for which he earned 74 caps from 1991 to 2002.  Wałdoch was a participant at the 1992 Summer Olympics, where Poland won the silver medal. He was also the captain of the Polish team for the 2002 World Cup.
-- Erwin and Helmut Kremers are the first ever twins to play in the Bundesliga.  Helmut makes the team while Erwin is on honorary mention.  Helmut a fullback scored 45 goals for Schalke, only 5 behind Erwin who was an attacker.  Both are among the top 10 scorer ever for the club.
-- The team lacked a defensive midfielder.  I should have taken Jiří Němec who was a big part of the 1997 UEFA campaign, but which midfielder should I drop? In the end, I have to use Olaf Thon as my defensive presence on the midfield.  Herbert Lütkebohmert was also a defensive midfielder.
-- Olaf Thon played mainly as a sweeper in his second stint with the club.  I selected him as a midfielder.  He is their 4th all-time leading appearance record holder.
-- I know very little about midfielder Herbert Burdenski.  I do not know his playing style. Was he the defensive presence that I needed? The Herbert-Burdenski-Weg in Erle was named after him. He was awarded the ring of honor of the city of Gelsenkirchen.  So he must have done something for the city.
-- Ingo Anderbrügge was a part of the UEFA Cup winning team in 1997 and a member of the "Team of the Century".  He edged out Hermann Eppenhoff (Germany) for the last attacking spot.  I ranked him ahead of Branko Oblak, Mesut Özil and Andreas Möller.
-- Mesut Özil left the club too early to be considered.Sometimes, I selected home grown players who left a smaller club early for a bigger club.  For example, Roberto Baggio was chosen for Fiorentina.  However, he was a rising star with Schalke 04, but he only played a handful of games in his two seasons with Schalke 04. He never got his chance here.  Andreas Möller came at the end of his career.  He was voted into Kicker Team of the Season for one his seasons here.  Nevertheless, he just did not do enough as compared to Ingo Anderbrügge.  Branko Oblak was a record signing for the club, but he only spent two seasons here.
-- Fritz Szepan and Ernst Kuzorra were considered to be Schalke 04's greatest players.  Both Fritz Szepan and Ernst Kuzorra married two sisters, making them brother-in-law.  Together they established the famous "Schalker Kreisel" system that used short flat passes to overwhelm their opponent's defence.
Fritz Szepan und Ernst Kuzorra 
-- Rüdiger Abramczik was the youngest ever player who played in the Bundesliga when he made his debut in the 1970's.
-- Stan Libuda, Rolf Rüssmann and Klaus Fischer's match fixing scandal with Schalke in 1971 was not a factor in their selections for this team.  Fischer is their all-time leading scorer.  He also had name recognition for his goal against France at the 1982 World Cup Finals. Rolf Rüssmann is 4th in appearance record.  In the year 2000, the supporters voted them into the Schalker Jahrhundertelf, the "Team of the Century".  I presumed that they were "forgiven".
-- Bernhard Klodt is the brother of goalkeeper Hans Klodt. He had lengthy career with Schalke 04.   He also played as an outside right at the 1954 World Cup Finals.  Stan Libuda was on their team of the Century. I left out right winger Ernst Kalwitzki.
-- Raul showed leadership and experience during his short time here. He was a popular player while playing for the club.
-- Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was Bundesliga top-scorer while playing for Schalke 04. However, I selected Raul over him.  At this moment, I am re-examining his career against that of Ebbe Sand.  Sand was Bundesliga Joint Top Goalscorer in the 2000–01 season (with Sergej Barbarez). 



  1. Neuer is a big name for Bayern and Germany, but not as Schalke All time No. 1. I would prefer Nigbur for his great appearances for so many years. I don't know much about Kördell and Kreuz, but I know, that Erwin Kremers was an outstanding dribbler as a left winger and deserves to be in the Squad.

  2. Neuer
    Höwedes Rüssmann Bordon
    Libuda/Abramczik/Klodt Szepan Thon Kuzorra Erwin-Kremers
    Huntelaar Fischer

    Neuer, Höwedes and Huntelaar were there for the 2011 CL run. They aren't necessarily better than Nigbur and Fichtel.
    Pick your favorite outside right.