By Hassan Talib Haji
Schalke striker Adam Szalai has stressed that his time at Real Madrid has made him a better player and he is eagerly anticipating the Champions League round of 16 tie against his former team.
The Hungary international was under contract to Los Blancos between 2007 and 2010, after joining the Santiago Bernabeu side from Stuttgart, but never broke into the first team.
Szalai eventually left Madrid for Mainz before joining Schalke at the start of the 2013-14 campaign, but he has nothing but fond memories of his time in the Spanish capital.
"I am obviously really looking forward to the games against Real Madrid. I had a great time there and gained a lot of experience," the forward told Goal.
"It helped me develop and eventually offered me the opportunity to ply my trade in the Bundesliga.
"It's hard to say what exactly I got out of my time in Spain, but my time at Madrid has made me a better and more complete player.
"It was the right time for me to join Madrid and find my way back to the Bundesliga from there on."
Szalai has netted five goals in 17 Bundesliga appearances so far for Schalke and he has admitted that his first few months at the Gelsenkirchen side have not been easy.
"It was definitely not easy to adapt. Schalke are one of the biggest clubs around in Germany and also play Champions League football," he explained.
"I have now had six months to get used to the team and the club. I am determined to do better in the second half of the season than before the winter break.
"I want to score more goals. Things have not really worked out for me so far. I want to improve in that area."
Szalai will be looking to add to his tally during this weekend's restart of the Bundesliga as Schalke lock horns with Hamburg on Sunday.