Jens Lehmann (German; ; born November 10, 1969 in Essen) is a German football goalkeeper who currently plays for VfB Stuttgart and recently retired from the German national team. He was voted UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year for 2005-06, and he has been selected for three World Cup squads.
He scored his first league goal on March 12, 1995 in a 6–2 victory over TSV 1860 München in the 84th minute, scoring Schalke's sixth goal from the penalty spot. His second goal was a last-minute equaliser (from a corner kick that was given incorrectly to Schalke 04, while the goal was scored from an offside position) scored against Borussia Dortmund on December 19, 1997.
Bayern Munich's Hasan Salihamidžić had been the last to net against Lehmann, in the 64th minute of a quarter-final first leg match on March 22, 2005; Lehmann kept a clean sheet in the second leg, and then a further seven during Arsenal's run in 2005–06 (Almunia played in the other three matches); the final clean sheet was earned in the semi-finals against Villarreal, after Lehmann saved an 89th-minute Juan Román Riquelme penalty. Lehmann maintained his shutout run despite an ignominious end to his 2006 UEFA Champions League Final against FC Barcelona; with the score still at 0–0 he was sent off in the 18th minute for a professional foul after bringing down Samuel Eto'o, making him the first player and goalkeeper to ever be sent off in a Champions League final, but it did not stop him from being named the Champions League Goalkeeper of the Year for the 2005–06 season after going more than 850 minutes without conceding a goal.
Lehmann's contract at Arsenal was due to expire in summer 2007 and during the 2006–07 season there was much speculation he would leave the club on a Bosman transfer. However, it was reported on April 26, 2007 that he had signed a year's extension on his contract, tying him to the club until 2008.
Lehmann subsequently had to wait nearly four months to make another competitive appearance for Arsenal, in their final Champions League group match against Steaua Bucharest. Nearly one month later, he played only his fifth competitive game of the season for Arsenal, against Burnley in the third round of the FA Cup; third-choice goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański has covered during League Cup games. Lehmann has expressed frustration at being number two to Manuel Almunia as this could cost him the number one slot in the German national team for the European Championship 2008, leading to doubts over his future at the club. However, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has described Lehmann's attitude during this time as “super-professional”.
On January 26, 2008, Lehmann appeared in Arsenal's second FA Cup game of the season, keeping his second successive clean sheet as the Gunners beat Newcastle United 3–0. Manager Arsène Wenger later promised Lehmann that, if he stays at Arsenal, he will play every game in the FA Cup. On January 29, 2008, Lehmann suggested that he will stick with Arsenal until his contract expires at the end of the season. Lehmann gave his reasons as his relationship with the fans, players, family situations and his chance to still be able to win things at the club; believing he "wouldn’t have had this chance somewhere else. On February 2, 2008, following an injury to Almunia, Lehmann returned in goal for Arsenal in the Premiership for an away fixture against Manchester City, more than five months after his last league appearance; Arsenal won the match 3–1. Due to Almunia catching flu straight after the injury, Lehmann kept his place in goal for the following three matches in February, including the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 against AC Milan, but also the 4-0 loss to arch rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup.
After another injury to Almunia in early April 2008, Lehmann was back in goal for the away game against Manchester United on April 13, 2008. Arsenal lost that game 2-1, virtually ending their Premier League title hopes for the season, which is their third consecutive season without a major trophy. There was speculation that would be his last game for the Gunners, but on April 18, 2008, Arsène Wenger confirmed Almunia was still out and Lehmann would play in the following day's home game against Reading, which Arsenal won 2-0. The following week, Łukasz Fabiański was given his Premier League debut against Derby County and Almunia returned to the bench for the game. However, Lehmann made another appearance as was brought on as a substitute for Fabiański in the last 20 minutes of the game against Everton on May 4, 2008, Arsenal's final home game of the season. He was given a standing ovation at the final whistle as he bowed and clapped to the fans. Later that day, Wenger confirmed that it was Lehmann's farewell appearance.
Lehmann conceded two goals in Germany's opening match of the World Cup, both scored by Costa Rica's Paulo Wanchope although Germany won the match 4–2. Lehmann played strongly in the next three games, conceding no goals and allowing Germany to sweep their group undefeated and beat Sweden convincingly in the Round of 16. Lehmann's streak of clean sheets was broken by Argentina in the quarterfinals, but his team found an equaliser late in the game and Lehmann stopped two shots in the penalty shootout:
The highlight of Lehmann's international career came in the quarterfinal match (June 30, 2006, Olympiastadion, Berlin) against Argentina. The game remained tied 1–1 after 90 minutes and extra time. The game came down to penalty kicks and Lehmann carried his team through. He made two critical saves of Argentinian penalty kicks, one from Roberto Ayala and another from Esteban Cambiasso, and came close to saving a third. Meanwhile, the Germans made all of the necessary goals to win the penalty kicks 4–2. Lehmann's prowess in the shootout was aided by notes given to him before the kicks — an idea from Germany's chief scout, Swiss-born Urs Siegenthaler — with Lehmann keeping the paper in his right sock. Before the last shot from Cambiasso, Lehmann looked at the paper for a long time even though Cambiasso's name was not even on it. The story around the paper features in the film Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen. Lehmann was considered a hero by the German public after these saves, and he received praise even from long-time rival Oliver Kahn.
Germany's opponent in the semifinals was Italy. The Italians had the better chances to score but Lehmann made several spectacular saves, including one in extra time where he dove out of goal to intercept an Italian player who had broken loose from the defense, punching the ball clear with his fist and temporarily knocking out the Italian in the process. He allowed two goals within a minute of each other with only a few seconds remaining in overtime, which put Italy into the World Cup final. The retiring Oliver Kahn was given the honour of starting in the third place match, with which Lehmann was content.
In August 2006 Lehmann revealed that during the World Cup he was suffering with a foot injury that he claims was a result of wearing different boots. The German Football Association ordered their players to wear only those manufactured by principal sponsor Adidas as opposed to Lehmann's sponsor Nike. This has now been overturned thanks to Lehmann and several other players protesting about the decision and the players are now free to wear boots made by other companies.
In August 2006, Lehmann suggested that he may retire from league and international football after playing for Germany in Euro 2008. However, he subsequently stated in January 2007 that he has not made any decision on retirement.
On August 8, 2008, Lehmann announced his retirement from international football. He made his decision following a two-hour talk with the German national team's coach Joachim Löw and goalkeeping coach Andreas Köpke, stating that he was not able to give them any guarantee that he will continue to play football following the end of his one-year contract with VfB Stuttgart in June 2009.
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