Christian Schwegler is leaving FC Red Bull Salzburg this summer to return to his local club, fc lucerne. it is a departure that is very painful for our fans, coaching staff and his team-mates. the last few days have been very emotional for Schwegler too.
FC Red Bull Salzburg bade farewell to one of their longest serving players at their final home match of the season. The Swiss full-back has been a leading figure in our defence for eight long years - a time in which he has experienced so many highs and lows for the Red Bulls. The experienced player's decision to leave the club in the summer is one he weighed up carefully. He made his decision public several weeks ago, without too great a fuss, in order to bring an end to any speculation about his future.
That helped the fans and club staff prepare an emotional and fully deserved send-off for one of the most loyal servants the club has seen in recent years.
The tears began to flow before kick-off in the 36th game week of the Tipico Bundesliga. Christian Schwegler had the honour of leading the team to the field as captain in his final match for FC Red Bull Salzburg. There was a surprise in store for our Swiss defender. His family and closest friends were at the stadium and joined the guard of honour with the SCR Altach players to clap our side onto the pitch. Schwegi knew nothing about this and was astonished at passing his friends, and reduced to tears. Alexander Walke gave his friend and team-mate a tap on the shoulder but had tears of his own to contend with.
In the final minutes, Oscar Garcia gave him a worthy send-off at the Red Bull Arena with a substitution shortly before full-time. Minutes of standing ovations from the Salzburg fans saluted Christian Schwegler. He will no longer be appearing for the Red Bulls at the Red Bull Arena, but we hope that we will keep a place in Schwegi's heart and he can visit us when the time allows.
After eight years at FC Red Bull Salzburg you are returning to your local club, FC Lucerne, in the summer. Are you feeling sad?
Of course it's making me a bit sentimental. Over the last few weeks, in particular, I have become increasingly aware that my time at Salzburg is drawing to a close and that has made me a bit sad. I made this decision aware of everything though and now I am looking forward to going back to my home. I am enjoying my last few days in Salzburg though and hope that we can finish the season with the double here.
There is no other foreign player who has made so many appearances for our club since the Red Bull takeover. Does that make you proud?
In a club with such big ambitions you always have to perform, and it makes me proud to have appeared in so many matches.
Eight years at the club makes you a loyal servant, of the kind you don't get often in modern football …
There are not many footballers anymore who have stayed loyal to a club for so long. It makes me even more pleased to have managed that here. The great thing is that the fans appreciate it.
You have been - and still are - a role model for young players. How did you find this role?
The young players can better say if I have been a good role model. I have always tried to support young players and to guide them, without neglecting my own performances.
Over the last eight years, you have always had to prove yourself, with some strong competition in your position. What was the secret of your success season after season?
I just gave my all every day and concentrated on my qualities. You need a strong will in order to succeed, and you can't ever stop having fun playing football. Whenever a new player was signed in my position, or one of the young players got a chance, it always gave me additional motivation. What makes me really proud is that I have been able to get picked ahead of many international players, even though I have never been considered for Switzerland.
Can you still remember your first match for FC Red Bull Salzburg?
I always thought it was a cup tie of some sort, but I recently was made aware that it was the Champions League qualifier against Bohemians Dublin. It was the home leg that finished 1-1. I remember the away leg better. It was a nervy one for so long and we won 1-0 to make the next round. The 'heading monster' Patrik Jezek scored the goal.
And which Red Bulls' match are you going to tell your grandkids about?
The 3-0 win away at Ajax in Amsterdam. That match was a highlight of my career. It was shortly after the winter break, and we didn't really know how much of a chance we had. Then we got a dream result in the Amsterdam Arena! The great thing was that were so many Salzburg fans in Holland and that we caused a sensation well beyond Austria with the result.
Which matches would you rather completely forget about?
All those in which we failed to qualify for the Champions League. You have to say though that this never broke us, and we always have given our all and succeeded in Austrian football.
You have played under seven coaches in Salzburg. Which ones will you remember?
All of them deserve to be recognised. I got along very well with all of them, and I've learned something from them all, and they've all brought success to the club. The time with Roger Schmidt was special as we played such spectacular football, but the team have developed very well under Oscar Garcia.
How was the time for you away from the pitch? How will you remember Salzburg?
I will definitely miss the friendliness and the mentality of the Austrians. My family and I have been treated really well here, and we've made lots of friends in Austria. We have really enjoyed the city of Salzburg and the surrounding area. We took our children into the nature almost every day, and we are always going to remember Salzburg very fondly for that.
With which players have you formed particularly close friendships? And who will you stay in contact with in the future?
Definitely Christoph Leitgeb and Andi Ulmer. Leiti was my roommate for many years and we spent a lot of time together. Leiti, Andi and I are the players who have been the longest at the club, and that has definitely brought us together.