Burnley v Huddersfield Town: Exclusive interview as Christopher Schindler steps up to the plate

Penalty hero: Huddersfield Town's Christopher Schindler.
Picture: Nick Potts/PAPenalty hero: Huddersfield Town's Christopher Schindler.
Picture: Nick Potts/PA
Penalty hero: Huddersfield Town's Christopher Schindler. Picture: Nick Potts/PA
REGARDLESS of where Christopher Schindler went during the summer, someone wanted to talk to him about '˜that' penalty.

Be it family events, catching up with friends or even the wedding of a former team-mate at TSV 1860 Munich, the moment when the 27-year-old proved himself to be the calmest man inside a fraught Wembley by firing Huddersfield Town into the Premier League would be revisited time and time again.

Most of those bringing up a moment that no Terriers fan will ever forget were not shy in revealing their surprise that Schindler had put himself forward as the man to take the decisive spot-kick, something that secretly delighted the one-time club record signing.

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“A lot of people wanted to talk to me about the penalty at Wembley,” said the German defender when speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s trip to Burnley.

“Everyone, it seemed, had seen the game and wanted to speak about it. I was at a wedding in Germany during the summer. It was the wedding of Kevin Volland and there were a few footballers there as well.

“They all had watched the penalty, live on television. I think they were more nervous than me! None of them could believe I had stepped up to take the penalty.

“That was good to hear. People who know me said I deserved it, saying: ‘You are not the guy who makes it all about you’. They know I am about the team.

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“It was really good of them to say that. I felt good. They came up to me and said it must have been unbelievable. They were happy for me.”

Volland, who joined Bayer Leverkusen for £15m in 2016, had got to know Schindler well during the duo’s time together at 1860.

Hence his delight at an incident that famously left Town chairman Dean Hoyle in tears, both in the immediate aftermath of a place in the Premier League being sealed and then again at the club’s celebration party later that night.

The lifelong Terriers fan had asked Schindler why he had taken the penalty, to which the defender replied: “You paid more money for me than you’ve paid for anyone else in this club. You made me the club’s record signing. So, I had a duty to give a bit of value back to you.”

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Asked about that exchange with his chairman a few months on, Schindler smiles at the memory before adding: “That is what this team is about. We only have players who want to reach the top and know that can only be achieved by everyone running for everyone else.

“This is a team and I wanted to do the job I was paid to do for Huddersfield Town.”

Such a selfless attitude is why Schindler quickly became a popular figure following his arrival in a £1.8m deal during the summer of 2016. That, and a level of performance that has gone up a few notches since Huddersfield stepped up the top flight.

Aaron Mooy has perhaps understandably attracted most of the individual plaudits this term, the Australian’s near constant involvement in games and quality on the ball meaning he catches the eye very easily.

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But, anyone who has seen Town’s five Premier League outings cannot also have failed to notice just how well Schindler has adapted to life among the elite.

The challenges he has faced have been varied, be it the aerial threat of Andy Carroll, Jamie Vardy’s lightning speed or the predatory instinct of Dwight Gayle. Each one of those tests, though, has been more than met by the Terriers’ defender.

“I like the Premier League,” said Schindler, who before this season had not played top flight football either here or back home in Germany.

“There are many different challenges and you have to have a lot of different skills. Usually, the strikers are the best football players at each club.

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“Each is different and that is a challenge. Andy Carroll against West Ham, for example, was very different to the type of player I had faced before. He is very strong and very good in the air, I had to be the same.

“For the first five minutes, I had to adapt a bit. He was clever and pushed me in the first challenge but after that I was ready for the rest of the game.

“He was different to the small striker, who runs short for the ball. In that situation, I have to be really tight and maybe follow them into the midfield sometimes to make sure they do not have a chance to turn.

“A lot also depends on how we attack at the front. We try to defend together and if that first line does that, it makes it easier for us at the back.

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“It is a big challenge for me but I am happy to prove myself against these kind of players and am really enjoying it.”

Today will bring a more familiar challenge as Schindler comes up against Chris Wood, who twice faced Town in Leeds United colours last season.

The Kiwi netted in the February tussle at the John Smith’s Stadium but it was Schindler who finished on the winning side both times as Town did the double over their neighbours. Another three points against Wood and his new Burnley team-mates would do very nicely today.

“We have had a good start in what is a very tough league,” added the German. “Everything is so huge and massive in the Premier League.

“I had imagined what the Premier League would be like but it is probably even bigger. I am enjoying the experience, playing at stadiums like West Ham. I like the Premier League a lot.”