Former Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo has been appointed as the new manager of Schalke 04.
Di Matteo becomes the third Italian manager to manage a German Bundesliga side after succeeding Jens Keller. The 44-year-old, who can converse in six different languages fluently, will begin his reign at the Veltins-Arena in their upcoming home game against Hertha BSC after the international break.
A statement on the club’s website read: “FC Schalke 04 have dismissed head coach Jens Keller with immediate effect. The Royal Blues have also parted company with assistant manager Peter Hermann and goalkeeping coach Holger Gehrke. The new head coach will be Roberto Di Matteo. The Italian, who won the Champions League and FA Cup with Chelsea in 2012, has agreed a deal until 30th June 2017.”
Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt says the club have opted for a change in personnel due to their “inconsistent” start to the season with just two wins from seven league matches and presently logged in 11th place in the table with eight points.
Keller led Schalke into the group stages of the Champions League twice in a row since taking over from club legend Huub Stevens in December 2012 reaching the round of 16 on both occasions. He helped develop players like forward Max Meyer and midfielder Leon Goretzka in the second half of the 2013/14 season when the club had to result to a number of youth prodigies following injuries to key squad members like Jefferson Farfán and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
“He (Keller) deserves FC Schalke 04’s thanks for that,” Heldt added.
Di Matteo started his managerial journey at Milton Keynes Dons before joining then-Championship side West Bromwich Albion in 2009, guiding the club back to English top-tier football at the first asking.
He parted ways with the Baggies at the start of the 2011/12 Premier League season to join Andre Villas-Boas management team as an assistant as that time. He gained promotion to the manager’s position at the west London club in March 2012.
During his 15-month spell at Stamford Bridge, Di Matteo won the Champions League in May 2012, beating Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties. Chelsea also claimed another FA Cup trophy under his tutelage, beating Liverpool 2-1 in the final.
Capped 34 times by Italy, Di Matteo (midfielder) played for Swiss clubs FC Schaffhausen (1988-1991), FC Zurich (1991-1992) and FC Aarau (1992-1993), before moving back to Italy to join Lazio (1993-1996).
During his playing days at Chelsea (1996-2002) he won two FA Cups (1997, 2000), the European Cup Winners’ Cup (1998), the UEFA Supercup (1998) and the English League Cup (1998).
Schalke are third in their Champions League group after two draws from two games. Di Matteo will face former club Chelsea on 25 December in a reverse group fixture.