Ever-present in European competition in 2012/13, Benedikt Höwedes will lead out FC Schalke 04 for the eighth time in the UEFA Champions League this season when they host Galatasaray AŞ on Tuesday aiming for the quarter-finals.
The centre-back is part of the furniture at the Stadion Gelsenkirchen, having joined the Royal Blues aged 13 in 2001. Less than four years after helping Schalke keep a clean sheet on his debut – a 2-0 group stage victory at Rosenborg BK in October 2007 – the German international was appointed skipper of the Bundesliga side. It is a role he cherishes.
"It fills me with a lot of pride," the 25-year-old, a key component of the team that reached the last four in 2011, told UEFA.com. "It's my second year as captain and I'm very proud to be captain of such a big team and such a big club. I try to fulfil my duties as well as possible, trying to be a role model and trying to push my team forward when it's not going well."
Höwedes says he gets "goose bumps" when he hears the UEFA Champions League anthem before a match. Whether he experiences the same sensation next term is uncertain, however, with Jens Keller's charges sixth in the Bundesliga with ten games remaining, two points behind fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt.
It could be that to return to the competition Höwedes regards so highly, Schalke might have to go all the way and lift the trophy at Wembley on 25 May. They welcome Galatasaray to Germany for their round of 16 decider having drawn 1-1 in Istanbul two and a half weeks ago. "The Champions League is what you work for the whole season," said Höwedes. "It's the competition where the best teams in Europe compete. Schalke belong in it."
To watch the full interview with Höwedes, click on the video player above.
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