Kevin Kuranyi played for both FC Schalke 04 and VfB Stuttgart. In an interview with Chillreport, he talks about his time at both clubs and the match on Friday.
He started his football career at VfB Stuttgart and continued it at Schalke – and in 2007 he was on the cusp of winning the biggest title of his career: the German Championship.
Ironically, VfB Stuttgart grabbed the team’s long-awaited championship title in Gelsenkirchen. All the more bitter for Kuranyi, who moved from Swabia to Schalke only two years earlier.
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Kevin Kuranyi: The ex-national player ended his football career in 2016. (Source: Eibner / image images)
13 years later, both teams are miles away from the championship. But while VfB celebrated a decent start to the season as a newcomer, S04 is in what is arguably the worst crisis in the club’s history.
Before the game between the two clubs on Friday (8.30 pm, in the live ticker on Chillreport), Chillreport spoke with the former national player. About the current situation at Schalke, the drama of 2007 and what both clubs have done wrong in the past 13 years.
Mr Kuranyi, Schalke 04 will face VfB Stuttgart on Friday evening. Which of your two ex-clubs are you keeping your fingers crossed for?
I always wish both clubs the best because I have them in my heart. But it’s no secret that in the current situation, Schalke needs the points more urgently than VfB. That’s why I hope they can get out of their critical situation a bit on Friday – and that VfB will still have a great season after that.
Schalke 04 is in crisis. Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the fact that Schalke’s players don’t understand the club. Why is it so difficult for players to develop a real connection with the club?
What Schalke is, how Schalke is to live, what Schalke means is known: Schalke means everything. The fans paint entire houses in the club’s colors and love the club. As a player you don’t have to be the best technician, you don’t have to score 100 goals. Nobody expects that either. But you have to give your life on the field. Fight. Run. Just what anyone who has done a little bit of sports in their life can do.
How critically do you see the development of the past months?
If you’ve been following the games since January, you have to say, everything is missing. Unfortunately. I wanted it to get better with the change of coach and for the team to be able to motivate itself better. Schalke is actually well staffed individually, but almost everything that makes a team is missing. Willingness to give 100 percent and want to tear yourself apart for the club. The fans notice that too.
Emotional goodbyes: Kevin Kuranyi said goodbye to fans in May 2010 after his last home game for Schalke. (Source: MIS / image images)
If the coach has been able to change little or nothing so far, who do you think is responsible for the difficult situation?
Sports director Jochen Schneider has largely taken over the team as it is today. He couldn’t change much because of the unfortunate financial situation. But he had at least three transfer windows to restructure the squad a bit. He didn’t do that very well. He should have made a big change.
Schalke is a club that has always played at the top. It’s going to be tough this season.
It should be clear to everyone that this year is all about staying up. The next two matches against a newcomer (VfB Stuttgart, editor’s note) and Mainz 05 will be incredibly important to catch up. Schalke must win these games. If that doesn’t work, it gets very, very difficult.
You not only have a Schalke, but also a Stuttgart past. In 2005 you moved from Swabia to Gelsenkirchen, although you had only recently renewed your contract for several years. What do you think of the change today?
The situation was not easy for me then. At VfB we were successful, but it was clear to me that I wanted to take the next step. Schalke was an absolute top team and I saw the next challenge ahead of me.
Kevin Kuranyi: The ex-national player also scored in the 2-1 win against Manchester United in October 2003, which is still unforgettable in Stuttgart. (Source: Pressefoto Baumann / imago images)
How many times have you thought about what would have happened if you had stayed in Stuttgart? Two years after their move, VfB won the German Championship.
That didn’t bother me at all. What I sometimes think about is how bad it actually was to have given up a seven-point lead eight match days before the end of the season. We should have become German champions in 2007. That was extremely bitter.
Could you at least be a little happy for VfB afterwards?
That was the only good thing that Stuttgart won the championship. If not us (laughs).
VfB is currently a newcomer far from the championship, but the young team convinces with refreshing, courageous football. Is a new generation “young and wild” growing up at VfB?
The team is fun and deserves the points they have now. Who I really like is Sasa Kalajdzic. I met him a few times during his rehabilitation. The boy is a professional through and through. Pleasant and respectful. I saw something of myself in him when my career started in Stuttgart. He has a top career ahead of him.
With eight points, VfB started the season more than well and is currently fourth. What do you still trust the Swabians will do in the future?
After the promotion and the ambitions of the club as a whole, the team must play internationally again. At least in the Europa League. Maybe not this year, but international business should be the goal for the next two years. VfB cannot claim to degenerate into a lift crew.
Cheers after the 2-0 win against Manchester United on 1 October 2003: Kevin Kuranyi with his teammates Jurica Vranjes (left), Imre Szabics and Alexander Hleb (right). (Source: Pressefoto Baumann / image images)
In 2007, at their sporting peak, Stuttgart and Schalke competed for the championship. 13 years later, Schalke fights relegation, Stuttgart was relegated twice in three years. What have both clubs done wrong in the past decade?
How you build and lead a team, which strategy you use as a club, is always up to the club management. And then you have to say: both clubs had a much too high fluctuation at this level. Countless people came and went, no clear line could be seen. Both clubs would do well to introduce and develop a new generation of former players. Take a look at FC Bayern Munich.
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… and Miroslav Klose assistant coach. Simon Rolfes in Leverkusen, Arne Friedrich in Berlin, Sebastian Kehl in Dortmund. They are slowly introduced to eventually lead the club they have come to know as a player. I would like to see Schalke and VfB add more ex-players. Mario Gomez would certainly be a candidate at VfB, Gerald Asamoah at Schalke. In any case, VfB is on the right track with Thomas Hitzlsperger, Schalke still has some catching up to do.
You mentioned Miroslav Klose. Are you available for an office at VfB or Schalke?
The question does not arise. I am currently building my own sports marketing agency, which is a priority. Of course I am also thinking about what the future holds and whether it is an option to join one of the old clubs. But I am absolutely happy and satisfied at the moment.