Manuel Almunia had nothing but praise for Jens Lehmann recently when asked about his feelings towards his former Arsenal teammate by Goal.
Almunia admitted that while the rivalry for the #1 shirt was strong, he learned a massive amount from the Germany international during their time together at Arsenal.
“When time goes by, you come back and you remember these things very nicely,” the 40-year-old told Goal.
“I have to say despite all the problems we had on the training ground or challenging for the No.1 shirt at Arsenal, I learned so much from him – how to behave on the pitch, how to treat your players, how to command the players, how to look strong on the pitch.
“I learned a lot from Jens. He is one of the keepers I liked most in my life. I was very lucky to share my time with him.”
Former Arsenal keeper Almunia has nothing but praise for an old rival! pic.twitter.com/WsWEXj30Qz
— Goal UK (@GoalUK) December 19, 2017
Almunia was at Arsenal from 2004-2012 when we sold him to Watford after a loan spell at West Ham. Lehmann arrived from Borussia Dortmund the year before him and immediately established himself as top dog, making 54 appearances across all competitions during his first season in north London.
For obviously reasons, Lehmann remained Arsene Wenger’s first choice goalkeeper until the season before left in 2008. Until then, Almunia has only made 40 Premier League appearances since joining; 29 of which came during Lehmann’s final season with the club after a string of errors forced Wenger to bench the German for four months.
You can therefore definitely imagine that tensions would have been running high between the two goalkeepers. Almunia would have been desperate to keep the #1 shirt that he’d finally managed to get hold of and Lehmann would probably have been intensely embarrassed at being benched for the Spaniard, who was eight years his junior.
Obviously, that’s all water under the bridge now and both ex-goalkeepers can look back at their time at Arsenal with fondness. Well, at least it seems Almunia can anyway.