Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Monday May 5 2008
With Big Jens about to be dragged into the sunset, kicking and screaming in his straitjacket, I thought it was worth recounting some of his more memorable moments in his five year stint at the Gunners. He was integral to our unbeaten season, our most consistent performer in the run to the Champions League Final in 2006 and he inspired one of my favourite tee shirts ever. Beware the Keeper!
VILLARREAL April 2006- If I have to pick one adrenalin busting moment from my time supporting Arsenal, this is it. Having played appallingly on a balmy night in Eastern Spain. Having chewed my nails up to my elbows for the entire evening, my heart sank into my stomach when the referee gave a soft penalty in the last minute against Gael Clichy. I didn't even have the energy to get angry, as Kenny, who had been infuriatingly positive all evening insisted, 'he'll save it, he'll save it.' True prophesy, Jens beat out Riquelme's effort and I've never been involved in a more intense jostle in a football ground before, and I doubt I ever will again. A true indication of Jens' professionalism occured as he angrily ushered away Kolo Toure who ran over to congratulate him. As he walked triumphantly towards our little corner, the Arsenal public has seldom expelled such a hero's reception to one of its sons.
REAL MADRID February 2006- With a pulsating tie teetering on a knife's edge, Arsenal leading by one goal in the second half of the second leg, Jens pulled off one of the most memorable saves in history. Raul cracked a first time shot against the post, the ball bounced perfectly back to the right foot of Raul with Lehmann stranded in his goal. With Raul wheeling away and the ball arrowing towards the corner, Lehmann rose from his paralysis and unbelievably tipped it around the post with the flat of his palm. It was the save that gave us one of the most significant results in the club's history.
MANCHESTER UNITED May 2005- Another game in which Arsenal played terribly. The 2005 F.A. Cup Final saw Arsenal outplayed, outfought and outthought by Manchester United. Confusingly, critics have followed the line of that odious twat Allardyce that Arsenal played defensively. Not true at all, we played shit. There is a difference. Had we played defensively, Lehmann may not have been called upon to make a series of stunning stops. Two from Rooney stand out, Lehmann was Arsenal's only decent performer on the day, helping Arsenal somehow hold out until penalties, where Lehmann's save from Scholes won Arsenal the Cup. A tribute to Jens' incredible mental focus, Lehmann testifies that he had no idea that Vieira's ultimate spot kick had won Arsenal the shoot out as he was preparing for the next penalty.
LEHMANN versus DIDIER DROGBA December 2006- A favourite in the blooper reels, Lehmann and Drogba clashed in slapstick fashion. Both chest bumping one another in an act of oneupmanship, before both collapsing to the ground in histrionic fashion. Stupid, appalling, fricking hilarious.
LEHMANN versus KEVIN DAVIES February 2006- Jens went walkies to the touchline during a hard fought draw with Bolton at Highbury. Davies dared to stir the beast by challenging Lehmann completely legally. Lehmann held his foot in a look of mock anguish, but realising the referee had not awarded him the free kick he desired. His apparent agony faded instantly as he jumped to his feet, even going so far as to stamp the wounded limb on the ground in anger. Tragically, the oscar was not forthcoming.
LEHMANN versus CHRIS KIRKLAND February 2007-With Wigan moving into an early lead, Latics keeper Chris Kirkland, much to the chargrin of Gooners, wasted record amounts of time, I think in preparation for one of his goalkicks, the Clock End timepiece vomited in disgust. So when Arsenal turned the game around late on, Lehmann decided to exact hilarious retribution. Firstly instructing the ball boy to leave the ball behind his goal, he indulged in a game of wallball with the advertising hoardings. Once he was good and ready he placed the ball on the edge of his six yard area to take the kick, before changing his mind and moving the ball to the other side ofhis box in an act of piss taking against Kirkland. He received a yellow card for his troubles, which in turn led to a suspesnion. A goalkeeper who can amass five bookings by February. Says it all.
They're just some of my favourites, there are other memories,the virtuoso performance at Anfield, clipping Kevin Phillips around the ear in an amusingly fatherly fashion, shoving that annoying mallet headed prick Robbie Keane to the ground during our title win at White Hart Lane. Thanks for the memories Jens. It's been a blast.LD.
Date:Monday May 5 2008
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