Roger Federer and Schalke's Breel Embolo: a friendship made in Basel
Embolo came through the ranks at FC Basel and the two Swiss stars got to know each other because Federer also called the city home.
“I was lucky that Roger also comes from Basel and was often in the stadium,” Embolo told Bild.
“When I was injured he invited me to one of his matches and gave me tips – even offered me help. You always look up to athletes like that. You treasure every second with them and listen carefully.”
Embolo is still in contact with the 19-time Grand Slam winner, who did his best to help the 20-year-old Switzerland international when he suffered a serious injury in October 2016. The Royal Blues forward broke his ankle and leg in the same incident soon after he moved to Gelsenkirchen, and as a result he was forced to miss the remainder of his first season in Germany.
“When I was injured, he sent a video of encouragement to me,” Embolo says of Federer. “And after that when I was at his match we talked a lot. When I needed medical advice, for example, I could get in touch. It was totally amazing that a personality like him would say something like that … He’s a role model.”
Embolo is fully fit once more and he came off the bench to get his first goal of the campaign in Schalke’s last league match before Christmas – as they hit back from 2-0 down to draw at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Watch: Embolo was on target in Schalke’s dramatic draw at Frankfurt on Matchday 17!
He spent some of the winter break in Cameroon – where he was born and where his father and grandfather are living – and has fully recharged the batteries for the second half of the campaign.
Second-placed Schalke face an early test when they travel to fifth-placed RB Leipzig on Saturday, and Embolo is hoping to make a bigger impact in the Bundesliga before heading to the World Cup with Switzerland.
“I need to have belief in my style of play and you saw that in the last few matches [before the winter break],” he told Bild.
“The more often I was on the pitch, the better I got. I knew I had to work twice as hard because of my injury and that’s what I did.
“I wanted to make use of every minute I played to experience positive moments – be it a goal or a win – and in order to play an important role in the second half of the season.”