In the last thirty years, FC Shalke have picked up a reputation as a club that loves provide a youth-first approach. The high-risk approach has seen the Royal Blues producing some of the biggest talents in German football. Their dependence on youth have seen Knappenschmiede products, also called the Schalke Academy, turn into a seal of quality in German football.
The road to their present success has had its share of difficulties. The Royal Blues had to disband and abolish their U16 team for a couple of years to allow the club to undertake a major revamp to their youth systems.
Owing to the success of the youth setup, Schalke has finished outside of the top 10 just 6 times in the last 30 years. During this time, the club has won two UEFA Intertoto Cups, UEFA Cup, three German Cups and the German Super Cup - their biggest trophy haul since the early 1940s and late 50s.
One of the very few academies in the world with state of the art facilities, Schalke have now turned into the hub of German youth football.
Here are ten of the best players to have graduated from the Knappenschmiede.
10. Max Meyer
Dubbed one of the greatest talents in German football during his early years, Max Meyer joined the Schalke Academy at the age of 14. The attacking midfielder spent three years at the academy before making professional debut for the Schalke reserve team in 2013.
The next five years saw Meyer making his debut and becoming one of the key players in Schalke's midfield. A dispute with the Gelsenkirchen club's management saw the midfielder running down his contract and joining Crystal Palace in 2018.
A fan-favourite during his time at the Veltins-Arena, Meyer made 192 appearances and scored 22 times before joining the English Premier League side.
9. Thilo Kehrer
Kehrer joined the Gelsenkirchen club's Academy in 2012 from VFB Stuggart. He spent three years in the academy before making his first-team debut in 2016.
The defender went on to spend just two more seasons in Germany before securing a big-money move to French giants Paris Saint Germain. In his two-year stint with the first-team, Kehrer made 59 appearances and scored 4 times.
The 23-year-old, who is capable of playing on the right as well as on the centre, is now one of the hottest young defensive prospects in the world.