Schalke's risky longing: love for Breitner, suffer with Götze

At Schalke, they are currently remembering the old times and players full of romantic feelings. Now Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is supposed to save the Royal Blues from relegation from the Bundesliga. But is the return of the prodigal sons a suitable means of getting on the road to success?

Basically nothing speaks against a love comeback, say couple therapists. Warming up old feelings is a completely natural process – but one shouldn't expect any greater chances of success than with a new love.

At Schalke, given the dramatically bad situation in which the club is currently, you will hardly seek advice from couples therapists these days. The command "returnees" is in full swing. After Sead Kolasinac, the arrival of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar from Amsterdam at Ernst-Kuzorra-Weg 1 in Gelsenkirchen is eagerly awaited. The goals of the Dutchman should protect the Royal Blues from relegation. At least that's the theory. But to what extent the romantic memories of Huntelaar's accuracy survive today's brutal reality, only the future will tell. In any case, Schalke is anything but an isolated case – as far as the return of old heroes is concerned.

When Paul Breitner returned to his old employer, FC Bayern Munich, after his time at Real Madrid in the 1977/78 season with his new club Eintracht Braunschweig, the world champion was booed and loudly abused in the Olympic Stadium. Breitner reacted horrified: "I regret having played here for these people for four years. That was the worst thing about an audience I have ever experienced."

Matthäus, Tiger and Pizarro show how it is done

But after the stab in his Munich heart, he added something conciliatory: "I'm just sorry because I'm still a Bayern supporter!" Just one season later, Breitner was finally wearing the Munich jersey again – and after returning home, helped the club win the first German championship in six years. The re-engagement of the man from Kolbermoor had more than paid off – and became the blueprint for many other returnees in the Bundesliga history in the following years.


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The most prominent examples at FC Bayern in the 1990s were Lothar Matthäus and Stefan Effenberg. Matthäus could only sign Bayern back then because he had torn his cruciate ligament at Inter Milan and the Italians no longer trusted the world champions very much. A mistake. In the following eight years, Matthäus won the championship four times with Bayern alone.

Stefan Effenberg commuted back and forth between Mönchengladbach and Munich with a short detour to AC Florence. And quite successfully. With the Foal Elf he surprisingly won the DFB Cup in 1995 and with Bayern in 2001 he won the Champions League. The return of the "Tiger" was worth it for both Munich and Mönchengladbach.

Stefan Effenberg's commuting between the two clubs is remarkable – but nothing compared to the club tourism that the Peruvian Claudio Pizarro pursued in his career. He returned to his first club in the Bundesliga, SV Werder Bremen, an unbelievable five times. And at Bayern Munich, too, he said to himself: You always see each other twice in life. The great successes of the Peruvian that he has achieved in his career prove that this type of constant return can also be successful.

Bad experiences at BVB

Ben Redelings

Ben Redelings is a passionate "chronicler of football madness" (Manni Breuckmann) and supporter of the glorious VfL Bochum. The author, filmmaker and comedian lives in the Ruhr area and tends to his treasure trove of anecdotes. For he writes down the most exciting and funniest stories on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Further information on Ben Redelings, his current dates and projects can be found on his website

The fact that this lived form of football romance does not always have to work has been shown in the past decade, of all places, with Schalke's rivals Borussia Dortmund. After the two German championships under coach Jürgen Klopp in 2011 and 2012 and the subsequent transfers of numerous popular top performers, BVB tried to revive the old days with the return of these players.

But the plan didn't work out. Neither Shinji Kagawa, nor Nuri Sahin and certainly not Mario Götze were able to match the form of their first years at Borussia. The many hopes of the BVB officials and the black and yellow fans have not been fulfilled. The old love flared up again – but it promised more than it delivered in the end. The general conditions were simply different than in earlier times.

The path that the Royal Blues are now taking is determined by many good feelings about their beautiful past together. Whether it is the right means to prevent the impending relegation – who knows? In any case, looking back into the history of the Bundesliga does not allow any meaningful conclusions. It is actually as the couple therapists describe it: The flare-up of an old love promises no greater chances of success than the start of a new one. It will be interesting to see how it will be at Schalke.

. (tagsToTranslate) Football (t) Bundesliga (t) FC Schalke 04 (t) Klaas-Jan Huntelaar