Raul brings himself into service for the team

Benedikt Höwedes defends his Schalke mate Raul in the interview, he talks about the danger of a false satart, Neuers mistake and Brazil

Stuttgart – At Schalke 04, Benedikt Höwedes is leader of the centre back and also captain.
In the DFB-Selection, the 23 year old belongs to the newbies and is fighting for a place in the team.

On May, 29, Höwedes celebrated his debut at the 2:1 against Uruguay in the team of national coach Joachim Löw – as right back.Against Brasil on Wednesday, the U-21-Euro champion of 2009 hopes for his third international.

I would not mind playing as a right back, Höwedes says. It would require a slight readjustment, but Im glad as long Im able to play for the NT and show my performance.

In the DFB-Team, Höwedes will meet his former team mate Manuel Neuer, who had a similar bad start with the Bayern, as Höwedes had with Schalke 04.

SPORT1: After the 0-3 match in Stuttgart, Schalke comes last in the league table. At what stage is the current state of Schalke from the perspective of the captain?

Benedikt Höwedes: We got a few new players, prepared ourselves well for the season and we have improved. Actually I entered the Stuttgart game with a very positive feeling and I thought that we would win. But we lost clearly and so Im disappointed. But Im confident, that were going to win 3 points in the next game against Köln.

SPORT1: Are you in danger of a false start again?

Höwedes: We knew, that we were a bit lucky with winning the Supercup against Dortmund. In the DFB-Pokal, we had a relatively easy time, but I dont believe, that were gonna start bad as the season from last year.


How do you, as a long term Schalke-player, evaluate the drastic modifications of the club and the team during the recent past?

Höwedes: We had a lot of acquisitions and departures in the last two seasons prior to this one. This year, we strengthened and we have the second youngest team of the Bundesliga and we are in a good way. The boys are hungry and its fun!

SPORT1: Recently Raul has caused a stir. Because he declined the election in the team council and because hes alleged to have problems with his position on the pitch.

Höwedes: I have to contradict here. Raul is playing exactly on the same position as the last season. He also played as attacking midfielder back then.

SPORT1: But does he have the same duties as in the past season?

Höwedes: Hes supposed to work differently, because we want to try pushing earlier in the front. Raul has to join in there of course, thats clear. Nobodys allowed to pause, we have to interact. Thats what hes doing. hes bringing himself into service for the team.

SPORT1: How do you rate the fact, that he declined the election to the team council?

Höwedes: I dont regard it as dramatic as some outsiders might see it. Even if there are language problems, alone through his presence on the pitch, he is a role model for everyone. Hes the ideal pro, many could take a leaf out of his book.

SPORT1: Manuel Neuer has left Schalke, Ralf Fährmann returned. Do you trust him, to follow his footsteps?

Höwedes: When I heard that Ralf was coming back, I was very happy. I already played in the youth with him, we became German A-Youth champions. We have a deep friendship and I think hes a very good goal keeper. To be honest, I was never able to comprehend the goalie discussion, because Im sure he will stand on his own ground. I dont worry at all. Ralf is following big footsteps, but we wont have any problems on the keeper postiton.

SPORT1: Did you speak to Manuel Neuer about the game against Gladbach?


I didnt ask him about the scene, that led to the goal and I havent watched the game either. We talked about private things – that was more important to me.

SPORT1: This scene has ruled the head lines nevertheless. Will he be able to put that setback behind?

Höwedes: Manuel is coping. He went through a lot of things and he has played a brilliant season for Schalke. Manuel is absolutely the best keeper in the world.

SPORT1: Did the fact, that you are national player and now also captain, change anything for you?

Höwedes: Younger players come to me and ask for advice, but I also approach them. I always need to lead, being a role model. but I also have to deliver a good performance and accelerate during training.

SPORT1: In the past season, you played side by side with Christoph Metzelder, on sunday it was Papadopoulos. How does things look for Metzelder?

Höwedes: Christoph had some problems with the Achilles tendon and a viral infection afterwards. Hes going to catch up on his loss of training. At the moment, Papa is in lead, but at the end of the day decides the performance and the coach.

SPORT1: In the National team, the places in the centre back are highly competive, the chance for a game looks better on the right back. Where would you rather play?

Höwedes: I have to see which position Im going to be employed on. Of course it would be fine with me to play as a right back. It would require a slight re-adjustment, but Im glad as long as I can play for the National team and show a good performance.

SPORT1: You had your debut against Copa America winner Uruguay. On wednesday you play against Brazil, which were weak at the copa. Still a special game?

Höwedes: Brazil is an absolute top-name and games between Germany and the Selecao are always something special. Its already a childhood dream coming true to play against them.


With the win of the U 21 Euro championships, you already fullfilled a dream of yours. Is it about time for Germany to win a big title with the A-National team?

Höwedes: We raise the claim, to get the maximum achievement out of it and of course we want to become euro champions.

SPORT1: How do you estimate the brazil team?

Höwedes: Brazil has always highly qualified/ accomplised players, that embody fun and play successful football. We have to be warned! http://www.kalafoundation.org/