Jens Lehmann

  • Born: (Essen, Ruhr, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany [now Germany])

Jens Gerhard Lehmann is a retired German footballer who played as a goalkeeper.

He was voted UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year for the 1996–97 and 2005–06 seasons, and was selected for three World Cup squads. He was a member of Arsenal's 'Invincibles', playing every match of their unbeaten title-winning season in 2003–04. He also holds the UEFA Champions League record for the most consecutive clean sheets, not conceding a single goal in 10 consecutive matches while he played for Arsenal.

He had a well-publicised rivalry with former Bayern Munich goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, whose presence long prevented Lehmann from becoming the number one goalkeeper of the national team. Lehmann was in the squad which finished as runners-up in the 2002 World Cup, but he didn't play any matches in the competition, as Kahn was still Germany's first choice goalkeeper.

On 7 April 2006, however, German national coach Jürgen Klinsmann announced that Lehmann would be Germany's first-choice goalkeeper for the upcoming World Cup. 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.

The highlight of Lehmann's international career came in the quarterfinal match (30 June 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, picking the right direction for all spot kicks, making saves from Argentinians Roberto Ayala and Esteban Cambiasso and almost saving a third. Meanwhile, the Germans made all four of the necessary spot kicks to win the penalty shoot-out 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 about 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 and backup keeper 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 dived out of goal to intercept an Italian player who had broken loose from the defence, 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 extra time, which put Italy into the World Cup final.
The retiring Oliver Kahn was given the honour of starting in the third place play-off match, an offer made by Lehmann himself. Kahn was made captain for that game due to the injury to Michael Ballack. Germany defeated Portugal 3–1 for the third place (bronze) medals.

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