Union Berlin's Atsuto Uchida waves goodbye to Schalke ahead of Matchday 3 clash with Stuttgart
The 74-time Japan international, 29, joined Bundesliga 2 outfit Union Berlin this summer after making 104 league appearances during a seven-year stint in Gelsenkirchen.
Despite being blighted by injuries in recent seasons, Uchida is regarded with huge affection among Schalke supporters, who gave him a rapturous reception as he was lead on to the pitch prior to Sunday’s Matchday 3 curtain-closer.
Uchida remains a household hame in his homeland, despite last featuring for his country over two years ago. Indeed, Schalke’s Japanese Twitter account remains the third-most popular in Europe behind Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Union Berlin are the third most-clicked club on the Bundesliga’s official Japanese site since his arrival.
Watch: Uchida sponsors a resident at Gelsenkirchen zoo
He made his second-tier debut for Union earlier on Sunday, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 3-2 defeat to league leaders Fortuna Düsseldorf.