Arsenal defender Sead Kolasinac made an instant impact in his first game back for boyhood club Schalke on Saturday, as he captained the club to their first win in 30 Bundesliga and almost an entire year.
Kolasinac, 27, completed a move back to his former club at the start of the January transfer window, on a loan deal for the remainder of the current season.
He returned to a Schalke club in crisis, without a victory in one of the longest winless runs in German football history.
But the club ended that nightmare in fine style on Saturday with a huge 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim – and Kolasinac was the catalyst that made it happen.
The full-back was hailed by spectators for his ‘real captain’s performance’, as he barked instructions to teammates, pointed when he wanted them to move and flew into challenges to inspire the team to a superb display.
He even ended the game in midfield as new manager Christian Gross changed it up in the second-half, a sign of Kolasinac’s influence in the game.
Another defeat or draw would have seen Schalke equal a 55-year record of 31 games without a win in the German top flight. That record was set by Tasmania Berlin, dubbed ‘the worst team in Bundesliga history’ all the way back in 1966.
But it was clear from the start that Kolasinac wasn’t going to let his boyhood club make unwanted history, and he set the tempo from the off as Schalke made a rare strong start.
Their defense wasn’t rock-solid, as they had goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann to thank for a series of outstanding saves, but they were ruthless upfront as 19-year-old Matthew Hoppe’s hat-trick and another strike from 23-year-old Amine Harit – who also got three assists – sealed a stunning 4-0 win