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On the spot

On The Spot: Christian Pander

Christian Pander is one of the few players to have escaped the wrath of frustrated Schalke fans. Even regional rivals Dortmund are doing better this season. Does that bother him?

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Christian Pander

Christian Pander:

We focus primarily on ourselves. The pain is bad enough - not being where we want to be headed. We're not performing as well as we can. We've got the last two games before the winter break to show we can do better.

DW-TV:

A disappointing league position has provoked tension. How are the players responding?

It's nothing new. I've been here seven years now and am used to people starting to moan after a defeat. It's not as if we say we don't care what they say and we're happy with eighth spot. We know we're underperforming, so it doesn't bother me. The pressure comes from myself anyway.

A series of glaring misses recently have made Kevin Kuranyi one of the principal culprits in fans' eyes. In many ways he symbolises the club's crisis.

The last few games have been tough for him. If he's not bagged his 15 goals by the end of the season, then maybe you can have a go. But let's give him a chance.

Do you console him in the dressing room?

Yes, of course you help each other. It's crucial for a player to know he's got the team's support. If you have a poor spell and see you're losing your standing in the team, then it's all over. There are enough people telling him to just keep at it.

Do you think the media's coverage of the team is fair?

I don't pay attention. As I said before: it's a situation I've known for years. We're the last people to complain about being treated badly. As I see it, if we win matches then the media have nothing negative to report.

Half of Schalke's goals have come from set-pieces - way above the average.

If it weren't for those goals we'd be even worse off. We can't sit back on set-pieces, and we can't get upset if we go two matches without scoring from one. But there's much more to football than set-pieces.

You're a specialist for dead ball situations. What makes a corner or free-kick that extra bit more dangerous?

For me, it's about whipping the balls in close to the goal. I'd say that's what makes it all a bit more dangerous.

Pander has an outstanding shooting technique that he has put to use for both club and country. The left-footer seems to have a natural born talent for hitting lethal crosses and set-pieces.

Are you desperate for the ball when the referee awards a free kick?

I'm always happy to take a free-kick. It's something I've practised for years and have always tried to improve on. And now it's become a strength.

How can the rest of us bend it like Pander?

It's hard to explain. I say the same thing to every lad or anybody else who asks. You have to develop your own technique. Before taking a free-kick during a match, I try to make the wall disappear in my mind. With direct free-kicks it makes everything a bit easier. I just pick my corner and then try to hit it as accurately as possible.

And Christian Pander's talents are not limited to the football pitch.

Two and half or three years ago me and a friend set up our own record label. We've got our own recording studio in Münster. He's learnt all the background stuff, and now he runs the place.

One of your songs is called "My story". There's a line about a wise man who taught you how to play. Who's it about?

It's about my granddad. He taught me how to play football when I was little. So he deserved a couple of lines, especially in a song that reflects my own story. Unfortunately he didn't get to see it when I finally made it.

'I'm back again' no doubt refers to your comeback after missing a year of action through injury.

Nobody thought I'd be out for so long. We knew I'd picked up a bad injury in that game against Stuttgart. But nobody thought I'd need so long to recover. In the end it took 19 months and 4 operations. I saw how quickly your dreams can evaporate. It was definitely a big learning experience.

But Schalke is a club where people stick together when the going gets tough. A few weeks ago the team and fans came together to mourn the passing of club legend and former team assistant Charly Neumann.

You could almost say that Schalke is a religion. Just look at the send-off for Charly Neumann, who was the heart of the club. I knew him since my first day at the club, and he accompanied me right up to his very last day here. He was simply a piece of Schalke, and it was more proof of what makes Schalke 04 so special.

You could have joined Real Madrid but stayed at Schalke. Why?

What it comes down to is that Schalke renewed my contract when I was doing really badly, when I was injured. That doesn't happen every day to a player where you don't know how the future will pan out. The club always stood by me so I was sort of indebted to them for that.

Thanks Christian. All the best and stay fit.

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