Benedikt Höwedes, the oldest academy product currently on Schalke's roster, extended his contract until 2020 on Tuesday. He wants to help guide the next generation of Schalke players.
For the fourth time in his career, Benedikt Höwedes has extended his contract with Schalke. This time he could remain in Gelsenkirchen until June, 2020.
“We're delighted that Benedikt has taken this step, as it is a sign of real commitment to Schalke 04 from a leading player,” Horst Held, Schalke's sporting director, said as part of a club statement. “It shows that he has faith in our plans, in which he plays an important role as team captain and defensive stalwart.”
Höwedes joined Schalke when he was 13 years old, and made his first appearance with the senior team as a 19-year-old in 2007. He won the German Cup with Schalke in 2011, the only major trophy the club has in the last 15 years. The Schalke captain is currently the oldest graduate of the Schalke academy system in the squad, and he made sure his stay lasted a little longer.
"My heart was thumping when I put pen to paper," he said. "Schalke 04 is a great club with amazing fans, a club I am thankful to for developing me as a youth player in the Knappenschmiede academy, giving me the opportunity to make my breakthrough in the Bundesliga as a youngster and handing me the role of captain early on."
Part of the Future
Having spent more than half of his life with Schalke, Höwedes was drawing interest from other European clubs. Liverpool was reportedly trying to convince Höwedes to join fellow German Jürgen Klopp in England, but the defender ultimately chose to stay with his boyhood club.
"I can't speak for other players. Everyone needs to decide for themselves how they want to behave," he said.
Schalke has fallen down the Bundesliga pecking order a little, not qualifying for the Champions League last season after reaching the knockout stages the previous three seasons. However, with a core of German youth nationals in the squad - Johannes Geis, Leon Goretzka, Max Meyer and Leroy Sane - Schalke are building a squad Höwedes wants to remain a part of.
"We have a young team full of potential and ambition. I want to continue shaping its future,” said Höwedes.
The 27-year-old defender is currently recovering from a hamstring strain, but is happy with the progression he is making. "Right now I am pain free, and that is a good condition," said Höwedes to the Schalke website. "An exact prognosis of when I can get back on the field is always hard to give, because every person has different muscles and regenerate differently."