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13 September 2008

Schalke fight fire with Fährmann

It will probably be the most spectacular debut in the Bundesliga this season. With a crowd of more than 80,000 expected for arguably the most famous derby in Germany, 19-year-old goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann will make his first appearance for FC Schalke 04 on Saturday at BV Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion. Fans in Gelsenkirchen may be nervous, but not Fährmann. "This is great," he said. "I'm ready."
No choice
Top of the league after three games, Schalke have been hit by a series of goalkeeping blows. With first-choice Manuel Neuer just returning to training after a broken metatarsal, deputy Mathias Schober tore a muscle in his right calf earlier this week. Coach Fred Rutten has no option but to give Fährmann his baptism of fire. "On the one hand this is not good," Fährmann said, "because I don't want my team-mates to be injured. On the other hand it's something special to play in a derby like this. I have the chance to show what I'm capable of against Dortmund."
'Strong personality'
Fährmann has spent the international break with Germany's Under-21s, though he failed to feature in either of their UEFA European U21 Championship qualifiers – against Northern Ireland and Israel – hardly ideal preparation for the 132nd Ruhr derby. Nonetheless, the teenager believes he can handle the pressure. "I know this is a very special and important match for our supporters, and I know how excited they are," he said. "Everybody wants to win against Dortmund. I think I'm cool enough. I left home in Chemnitz when I was 14 to play football for Schalke. I have a strong and stable personality."
'Cool customer'
Rutten may have been forced to blood Fährmann, but the 45-year-old Dutchman – who arrived in the summer from FC Twente – is putting on a brave face. "I'm not nervous because he is playing," he said. "He is a cool customer." Dortmund have won only one of their last nine home matches against Schalke, and their task could be made harder by the presence of forward Jefferson Farfán, poised for a Bundesliga debut for the visitors following his move from PSV Eindhoven. Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp knows how much is at stake, even this early in the campaign: "It's a very special match, so I don't see why I should pretend it's not."