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Huntelaar hopes to show Madrid made a mistake

Updated: 2014-02-26 08:48
By Reuters in Madrid ( China Daily)

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has gone on to become one of the Bundesliga's most prolific strikers since being shunned at Real Madrid, and on Wednesday he will finally have a chance to show his former club what it is missing.

Huntelaar's Schalke 04 hosts the nine-time European champion in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie and the Dutchman, who has scored 51 goals in 89 league appearances for the German side, is looking forward to it as much as anyone.

"I worked very hard to return as soon as possible and now I am back, playing, helping the team and scoring goals," the 30-year-old said.

"I had some very tough moments. I think I am coming into the tie in very good condition."

Real bought Huntelaar from Ajax for $37.1 million in January 2009 and he scored a respectable eight goals in 20 appearances, yet it failed to impress one of the world's most demanding clubs.

Just eight months later, he was sold to AC Milan after Florentino Perez returned as Real president and cleared out the Dutch contingent, which also included Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder.

Huntelaar ended up spending a season at AC Milan, where he scored seven goals in 30 appearances, before joining Schalke in 2010.

Coincidentally, Milan and Real met in the Champions League that season but Huntelaar was an unused substitute in both games.

"Madrid is a great club, with fantastic people," he said.

"I arrived during a difficult time for the club in every sense. We were far behind Barcelona, but we played a good second half of the season and closed the gap to the top significantly.

"Despite everything I was focused on playing, on fighting for a place on the team, but they didn't give me a chance and they left me no option.

"They wouldn't even let me train with the rest of the squad, they shut me out. I had to leave. So I sought an exit and moved to Milan.

"Obviously it wasn't my objective to leave Real Madrid so soon, but that is football and there is no point in dwelling on it."

(China Daily 02/26/2014 page23)