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Schalke's Miners' Forge: Germany's thriving academy

Discussion in 'The Football Forum' started by King Binny, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. King Binny

    King Binny Very Well-Known Honorary Member

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    Schalke's Miners' Forge: Germany's thriving academy responsible for Ozil, Sane, Draxler and Neuer
    Article: [​IMG]
    Schalke are a sleeping giant in the German top-flight, yet their youth academy is one of Germany's most successful, producing World Cup winners, Bundesliga stars and Premier League exports.

    Germany have just qualified for Russia 2018, where they will defend the World Cup title they won in Brazil when four former members of Schalke's academy were in the squad.

    Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, Juventus defender Benedikt Hoewedes and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Julian Draxler all came through the Gelsenkirchen club's youth set-up.

    Schalke are nicknamed "The Miners" due to Gelsenkirchen's industrial setting and their youth academy, called the "Miners' Forge", has a long list of talented alumni.

    Manchester City winger Leroy Sane, Liverpool defender Joel Matip, and Arsenal left-back Sead Kolasinac, are just some of its graduates.

    The latest player to emerge from the academy to Schalke's senior squad is 19-year-old Weston McKennie, a future US international in the making.

    But what attributes make a future professional or a World Cup winner?

    "Talent is important, but that only gets you through the door," Norbert Elgert, coach of Schalke's Under-19 team, told AFP. "Athleticism and skills as a team player are all important. Then there are also things which are often overlooked - character, personality, desire to improve.

    "You have to have the confidence to elbow your way up in a squad of 25 to 30 players, or you have no chance, but then you still have to be a team player."


    Elgert, 60, has seen an impressive list of names roll off the production line at Schalke since 1996. He is passionate about coaching and, with his flowing grey locks, adopts a father-figure role.

    "We put a lot of emphasis on education, right up to 'Abitur' (university entry qualifications)," he said. "We encourage that because what percentage actually make it? Four or five per cent maximum will be Bundesliga footballers.

    "Whenever I speak to a player about their future, I always ask, 'what is your Plan B?' We have to look past football, for those who don't make it, get injured or get sick."


    His success with Schalke attracted an offer a few years ago from Bayern Munich, but Elgert, who was born in Gelsenkirchen, opted to stay.

    He said Germany's ability to produce talented young players stems from the lessons learnt from mistakes in years gone by, namely Euro 2004, when they failed to qualify from their group.


    "It was important for us to learn from the past," Elgert said. "It wasn't just enough for German teams to be organised, we were overtaken by countries like Spain, Holland or Italy.

    "The German Football Association (DFB) has been very innovative with the academies and always kept an eye on what is going on in other countries."

    He clearly has strong links to his former players and eagerly asks how Ozil and Kolasinac, who joined Arsenal in June, are regarded in England.

    His eyes light up when he describes spotting talent, like the teenage Ozil. In fact Elgert receives a text message during the interview, he smiles as he shows the caller ID that reads "Ozil, Mesut".

    "He was playing an Under-17 trial here, which I was overseeing as part of a school project," Elgert said. "It wasn't just the way he controlled the ball with great technique, it was the way he could read the game. He was always looking where his players were and making good decisions."


    Elgert persuaded Ozil to join the academy at Schalke, where he made his senior debut in 2006, leaving two years later for Werder Bremen in a deal worth five million euros ($5.8m).

    He went on to Real Madrid and when he joined Arsenal from the Spanish giants in 2013, Ozil cost 47 million euros.

    Elgert looks pained when discussing Neuer, arguably the world's best goalkeeper who is currently sidelined with a fractured foot.

    "It's just a huge pity, he lives for football and just wants to play football," Elgert said. "I don't worry about him. Of all the people this could have happened to, he will come back and be in his best form for Russia and the World Cup finals.

    "I have known 'Manu' since he was 10 or 12 years old. He wasn't fixed in the goalkeeper position then, he trained and played as an outfield player. He was obsessed with football, in a positive way, he took tremendous pleasure in playing football.

    "You could see his ambition by the time he reached the Under-19 team. He wasn't first-choice, someone else was playing goalkeeper. I said to him: 'Manu, with your talent you can decide for yourself when you play.' He quickly became the first-choice for our Under-19 team, but also for Germany."

    Doesn't it hurt when, after years of investing time and resources in players, they pack their bags for bigger clubs?

    "When they leave, your heart bleeds. Sead, for example, developed well here, but on the other side you are pleased for him," Elgert said. "I'd rather see him here, like a lot of 'Schalkers', but I am pleased to see he has found his feet and is helping his team."

    Schalke are currently firmly a mid-table side in the Bundesliga.

    "It would have been an interesting team here if all the boys had stayed," Elgert said. "We could have challenged the likes of Bayern Munich, but that is the past and the club (Schalke) profited from those who left financially.

    "You only have a career for a short period of time. The boys who left, like Manu, will always have a bit of Schalke in them. When they return to visit, I always greet them with 'welcome home'."


    Just came across this article. Schalke must be doing something right with their conveyor belt of academy graduates who turn out to be good players.

    Manuel Neuer
    Mesut Özil
    Julian Draxler
    Joel Matip
    Benedikt Höwedes
    Sead Kolasinac
    Leroy Sane
    Max Meyer
    Leon Goretzka

    :jawdrop:
     
  2. LeTallecWiz

    LeTallecWiz Mo(ssa)d Administrator

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    Let's just start cherry picking it then! :)
     
  3. King Binny

    King Binny Very Well-Known Honorary Member

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    Dated Feb 2016
    Is Schalke the new Ajax Academy of stars?
    Article: It was the home of some of the biggest football stars in the world. Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Howedes, Julian Draxler and Mesut Ozil - more than £100m of talent has emerged from Schalke's football academy in the industrial heartland of the Ruhr Valley in Germany, but there appears to be a conveyor belt of talent still coming through the system.

    Cameroon international Joel Matip is the latest to get a big move to the Premier League, joining Liverpool with German international Leroy Sane linked with Manchester City.

    But why do they develop such talented players, what's the secret that has led to comparisons with Ajax's iconic Academy in the Netherlands which produced Marc Overmars, Clarence Seedorf, Dennis Bergkamp to name a few?

    Schalke's Under-19 coach is Norbert Elgert, he's worked with the likes of Mesut Ozil through the youth system and says taking the pressure away from the players gets the best results:

    "The big danger is that players have too early too much pressure, but we are very careful with them because of this the players are in school and have to qualify every year for the next step. We have to convince our players of the fun. Fun, fun, fun is a magician's word".

    Schalke sit in a region of Germany that's dominated by some of the biggest clubs in the Bundesilga which Elgert admits can prove a challenge when trying to spot the best players at a young age:

    "The quality of our scouting is very good, our region is very big, especially with Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mochengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen so we have to scout very well. We chase the players from little clubs partially too early, but when we don't we have no chance to get them because other clubs will make it. It's usually seven or eight years of age (when they are scouted).

    "I always say that the talent brings the player in the door, but very important is attitude, personality, education has the same importance as the talent.

    "Joel Matip - in education (he was ) very good, but not so many people were convinced about his talent" says Elgert. Matip has made over 200 appearances for Schalke and Elgert admits he was one of the strongest in the classroom, but he had to improve at his football to make it professionally:

    "He always worked very hard and improved his form year to year and then he got the opportunity from one of the professional coaches Felix Magath. He brought him very early in to the first team and he used his chance and since then improved. I think he's actually an international top player".

    So does Elgert think if Matip wasn't so good academically he may not have made it as a footballer?

    "Maybe but it's not a must, but it's not a disadvantage to be intelligent because football in the last 10 years developed extremely and when we talk about the game intelligence it's clear that brain intelligence is not a disadvantage.

    Joel Matip is good and I think in the future he will be very good because he's a good learner, he works very hard, he has a good personality a good corrector and he's still young."

    The Cameroon international has emerged as one of the stars of the current Schalke team and along with Leroy Sane has attracted interest from across Europe over the last year.

    Sane made his international debut for Germany in the autumn after only a handful of promising appearances in the Bundesliga.

    The 20-year-old is the son of former Senegal striker Souleymane Sane and Regina Weber, an Olympic medalist in the rhythmic gymnastics for Germany in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Sane's a player that certainly excites his mentor:

    "No one knows where is the end of his development. The speed of Leroy you can compare with the speed of his father, you can see with his gymnastics and his stretching he's genetically very good. With his speed he could be a very good 100 metres runner, another Usain Bolt".


    Behind the scenes of Schalke 04's famed Youth Academy which is known as "Die Knappenschmiede". Trans World Sport meets the latest German footballing talent.
     
  4. Modo

    Modo A contentious scando Member

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    They bought Goretzka like we bought Ibe.
     

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