In Jens Lehmann’s new book, The Madness is on the Pitch, he opens up about the English media’s portrayal of his character after he joined Arsenal in 2003.
In an exclusive excerpt from Lehmann’s book, released 14 November, in the Telegraph, the goalkeeper speaks about how the media saw him after he made a couple of mistakes due to his… unique… playing style.
“Nevertheless, on occasion, I had to take a lot of flak,” he said. “Sometimes, I would play 30 or 40 yards in front of my goal, where I was able to intercept 95 per cent of balls coming in.
“It did also, however, lead to my making two mistakes in the Champions League, handing the opposition striker an assist with my head or similar. Moments like that make you look like Mr Bean, and since the English, whether down the pub or in the papers, interpreted every single situation of play as intensely as if it were a passage from the Bible, the exegetes soon delivered their verdict: that keeper was bonkers.
“Still, I fit quite well into Arsenal’s system of play. My first season there was one of the best in all my life; I did not make a single mistake in 38 Premier League games.”
Lehmann was at Arsenal from 2003 to 2008, when he signed for Stuttgart, and then for a brief spell in 2011 when the Gunners asked him to fill in due to injuries.
While in north London, he won the Premier League, helped the team go an entire season unbeaten, won the FA Cup and made the Champions League final in 2006. Although the less said about that the better.
To Gooners, he was fondly known as ‘mad Jens’, our eccentric Germany shot-stopper who no one wanted to mess with, which I guess is why so many were chuffed when it was announced he would be coaching the first team.
To others, he was unpredictable and potentially a liability, as the 47-year-old points out in his book.
Lehmann was a fantastic goalkeeper and wasn’t capped 61 times for Germany for nothing.
Fortunately, despite the odd mistake, I think everyone always knew that.