{1} Jens Lehmann

Jens Lehmann

    • Name: Jens Lehmann [GK]
    • Born: 10/11/1969
    • Caps: 44 – GERMANY
    • Clubs:
      • 1989-98 Schalke
      • 1998-99: AC Milan
      • 1999-2003: Borussia Dortmund
      • 2003-Present: Arsenal FC

The end of the 02/03 season brought with it the closing of the iconic David Seaman’s career, and with it, the need for a sturdy replacement between the sticks. What Arsenal got was anything but: the living, breathing definition of ‘loose cannon’, Jens Lehmann is an Arsenal legend in many ways. Famed throughout England and Europe as ‘an easy windup’, Mad Jens has brought pain, laughter and ecstasy in various doses in his stint as an Arsenal ‘keeper.

His debut season in an Arsenal jersey was the incredible ‘Invincibles’ season – 38 games, 12 draws, 26 wins, zilch-bugger-all in the loss column. Jens played a nigh-on everpresent role that season, as Arsenal also reached the FA Cup Semi-finals, and Champions League Quarters.

There wasn’t that much evidence from that glorious season to suggest Jens’ fate in 04/05. The following season was somewhat calamitous in comparison – losing the championship to the Chelsea circus, and bowing out in the round-of-sixteen in Europe, a run that included a notable howler against Panathanaikos. He was eventually benched, with Manuel Almunia taking guard for a time in the second half of the season. However, whether by hard-training or Almunia’s own faults as a keeper, Jens returned to safeguard Arsenal’s goal in the run-in to the league runner’s up spot, and saved the best performance for last: saving Paul Scholes’ penalty in the first FA Cup Final shootout – a match in which Arsenal were hopelessly outclassed, but came out with the trophy through Jens’ heroics.

The Highbury-Salute season of 05/06 saw Jens establish himself as one of the squad’s standout performers. A mediocre season in the league, nothing to speak of in the cups, but everything to cheer about in Europe. Arsenal found themselves on an unfamiliar trailblazing run in the Champions League, beating the likes of Ajax, Real Madrid, Juventus and the wildcard-performers Villareal to reach a glamourous final against FC Barcelona. Though the Juventus match was down to the brilliance of Messrs Henry and Fabregas, The limelight belonged to Lehmann in the Real Madrid home leg, and the Villareal semifinal away leg. Everyone who saw the saves of Raul, and the last-minute penalty save against Riquelme, will forever remember them. Stunning, scintillating, heart-stopping, all-action saves from Jens, only to break our hearts with a sending off in the final itself. Without Jens, however, no final would have been possible.

06/07 saw another transitional season for Arsenal, and Lehmann’s performances and authority showed signs of dwindling. However, a host of fantastic saves off Solskjær and Sidwell, notably, as well as others, maintained his reputation as one of the Premier League’s finest. Certainly the most irratic, anyway.

Next: {2} Abou Diaby [CDM]

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