March 22, 2017

Benedikt Höwedes : Schalke’s Loyal, Resilient and Successful Star

When you think of the Schalke academy, some of the biggest names in the world come to mind. The players i’m referring to include World Cup winners Neuer, Draxler, Ozil, and Howedes along with Leroy Sane, Ralf Fahrmann and Max Meyer. All of these players are stars, but only one of them is the captain of Schalke. That man is Höwedes , who has been with the club at the youth level since 2001 and the senior team since 2007. He’s been through it all with Schalke, and his loyalty, resilience and star play that’s helped Schalke  makes him someone who should be admired by all Bundesliga fans.

Loyalty

Schalke’s academy is hailed around the world for their players, but most of these players are exports rather than current Schalke stars. Three of the four World Cup winners have left the club for variety of reasons. Neuer left the club in search of more trophies and a chance to play for a bigger club in Bayern, which in some ways in understandable. As Bayern showed us all once again with their recent double swoop for Hoffenheim’s Sule and Rudy, the lure of Bayern can bring in almost any player.

Meanwhile, Ozil and Draxler left for different reasons. Ozil was in search of first team minutes, which he got at Werder Bremen. On the other hand, Draxler left seemingly for money while playing for a club with similar aspirations to those of Schalke. The circumstances behind Sane’s departure was similar to all of the World Cup winners, as he left for money and to play for a Champions League club.

But this trend has one exception, and that exception is Höwedes , who has stayed loyal even though he’s seen many teammates leave over the years. The academy product could’ve gone almost anywhere after his versatility and dependability were on display at the World Cup, but as always he stayed with the Royal Blues. This loyalty hasn’t been overlooked by Schalke supporters, as the ultras were seen holding a Höwedes  jersey after his injury last season. His loyalty was on display very recently as the captain signed a new deal, which adds three more years to his contract. Now, he will likely be with Schalke until 2020, which will ensure that he stays with the club for over a decade, which cannot be overlooked.

With all of the money in England tempting Bundesliga stars like never before, Höwedes’  loyalty should be commemorated. Also, he signed this deal through his prime, which ensures that almost any interest from another club will be much reduced by the end of the deal. Howedes must have known this when he signed the contract, which displays just how loyal he is to Schalke.

Additionally, he signed this deal knowing that the club isn’t’ in the Champions League this season, and there is a good chance that Schalke aren’t there next term. And he signed the contract even though the club has a new sporting director and manager, who Höwedes  has no reason to be loyal to. The fact that he’s staying while the club isn’t in the Champions League and with a new manager and director shows that under any circumstances, the captain  is willing to stay with Schalke. With this being the case, Höwedes  is incredibly loyal to the Royal Blues, which is why the supporters appreciate him as much as they do.

Injuries and Resiliency

Howedes’ long tenure in Gelsenkirchen has certainly seen its fare share of highs, but it’s also had a lot of personal obstacles for the German. The main obstacle that Höwedes  has had to overcome has been the constant injuries that he’s suffered.

The injuries that the German has suffered has limited him to under 30 Bundesliga appearances in every season since 2012-13. Also, Höwedes  was limited to 15 Bundesliga apps last season, and he only featured in 19 league games in 2013-14. His injuries have kept him out of a lot of games, and they’ve also impacted his form on the pitch. In his injury riddled campaign last season, the World Cup winner had a mediocre match rating as his mark was at a mere 6.73. The same can be said about his rating in the injury riddled 2013-14 season, which saw him post a 6.87 rating, which is lower than what Howedes has typically produced.

This season—which has been a healthy one for Höwedes — sees his match rating stand at a solid mark of 7.19, which is much more than his two recent injury riddled seasons. The German’s rating in 2014-15 reflects this phenomenon as well, as his rating in that season stood at 7.16 during a fairly healthy season for Höwedes . The match rating figures he’s put up display that the constant injuries Howedes has suffered from have had an impact on his play on the pitch.

Despite all of the setbacks he’s had recently, the German was still able to come back and be fit for the euros, where he was a solid contributor forYogi Low’s side. His health this season also shows how resilient Höwedes  has been, as he’s not let his injuries mount or doom his season once again. The fact that he’s put a lot of time into being fit for this season in both the Bundesliga and the Europa League displays that the German works hard to get fit for his club. This resiliency is just another admirable trait that Howedes possesses.

Star Play and Success

Besides his loyalty and resilient comebacks from injuries, Höwedes has also been a very effective player for most of his tenure in Gelsenkirchen. When Höwedes has been consistently fit, his match rating has ranged from 7.12 to 7.19 in most seasons. These totals are very solid for any player, but especially a defender. Höwedes  also has won a lot of aerial duels when he’s been deployed at center back, as this season he’s won 2.7, and in 2014-15 he won 3.1 per game. In addition, Höwedes is a solid passer, who over the last few seasons has consistently passed at around an 85% clip. This total is very solid for a defender, and it displays how Höwedes  helps initiate Schalke’s buildup at the back.

With the versatility Höwedes brings in being able to play full back or in the center, and the fact that he’s had a lot of managers in his career makes his stats very impressive. His steadiness at the back has been one of the main reasons why he’s had so much success for club and country.

With Schalke, Höwedes  has been a part of some of the most memorable moments in the club’s history. These moments include being a part of the side that famously won at the 4-3 at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid in 2015. This win showed how far Schalke had come as a club under the ownership of Gazprom and it was a crowning achievement for Schalke’s youth development, as Max Meyer, Timon Wellenreuther and Leroy Sane starred and Leon Goretzka appeared in the match as well.

Besides that victory, Höwedes  was on the side that famously made the Champions League semi final in the 2011 season. This miraculous run included a legendary win over then holders Inter Milan at the famous San Siro. The 5-2 victory saw Höwedes score in the 81st minute, as Schalke took Europe by storm during that season. That victory ensured that Raul would become a club legend, and it made Schalke a big name in European football.

Höwedes  was also with the club during another crowning achievement, which saw Schalke qualify for the Champions League for three consecutive seasons after the 2013-14 season. This was the first time ever that Schalke had achieved such a feat in more than 100 seasons of football. This feat has helped the club gain in prestige and financially, which is part of why Schalke have made big money moves for players like Breel Embolo. This run also helped Schalke continue to put money into the academy and produce top players. Also, the German was a part of the side that won the 2010-11 DFB-Pokal, which at the time was the clubs first trophy in many years.

Internationally, the success Höwedes has had has been well documented. He was a part of the German team that won the 2014 World Cup, which saw him play every minute of the tournament. He was also a part of the 2016 Euro semi finalists and the 2012 Euro side. The fact that Howedes has had so much success internationally and with his club shows us why he’s adored by Schalke faithful.

The loyalty, resilience and the huge amounts of success that Benedikt Höwedes : Schalke’s Loyal, Resilient and Successful Star has had in his career makes him a legend at Schalke, and a player that every Bundesliga fan should admire.

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Alex Lynch

Alex a passionate fan of the Bundesliga and German Football who resides in the United States, who also loves writing and talking about the Bundesliga.

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