At The Talking Game we catch up with Players, Coaches, Staff, Agents and almost anybody who has a part to play in the beautiful game, right from Fabio Cannavaro, Ian Rush, Daniel Sturridge to Mr. Tony Stones, the ground manger at Wembley. In this edition, editor Aditya Balaram interviews former Germany international and Arsenal FC goalkeeper, Jens Lehmann.
Jens Lehmann is probably one of the biggest names in the sport over the past couple of decades as the former German goalkeeper kept fans of the Bundesliga and the Premier League entertained with his sensational goalkeeping and crazy antics. Lehmann made the daunting shift in the Ruhr region, from Schalke to Borussia Dortmund. He also donned the Stuttgart jersey for a couple of seasons. He impressed fans of the Bundesliga throughout his time in the league, the colour of his jersey never affecting his performances . Lehmann also had a memorable time with the Invincible Arsenal winning a Premier League title and finishing runners-up in the UEFA Champions League. His stellar career also included World Cup and European Championship finals for the German national team. THT editor Aditya Balaram talks to Jens Lehmann about his time at Arsenal, the current goalkeeping scenario in Germany and England, his future as a coach and a lot more
1. Would you encourage young German keepers to go abroad to learn different styles of football?
Lehmann: Yes, but not too early as most of the education is based on my style of playing. So they can go after finishing the youth academies.
2. The goalkeeping situations in Germany and England are very different at the moment. Germany seems blessed with a large number of top young keepers while England is struggling to find a few quality young keepers. Why do you think this is the case?
Lehmann: We do not have that many top keepers, but of course far more than England. I encourage every keeper but also players to try to go to school as long as possible. It is the only place where to learn to concentrate for long hours. The English approach is different, school comes second there.
3. Was keeping in England very different from keeping in Germany? How so?
Lehmann: Yes, the game is faster, more physical challenges and higher demands.
4. During your time at Arsenal, the club reached heights previously unheard of and have never managed to come close to that sort of success. Why do you think that has been the case?
Lehmann: We were possibly the best side ever on English soil in terms of technique, pace and physique.
5. Do you see the Özil signing as Arsenal adopting a new approach economically, or is this actually Wenger taking his philosophy to the extreme by buying an extremely “Arsene-esque” player?
Lehmann: Both. The fans now seem to be proud that the club has signed such an expensive player. He fits in very well into the team. If he is fantastic he has to show it during the entire campaign.
6. What was it like to be in that Invincible Arsenal side that went unbeaten for an entire season in the Premier League?
Lehmann: Felt good and the confidence was growing and growing.
7. You hold the record for most consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League. Do you see any goalkeeper capable of beating this record in the future?
Lehmann: Capable yes, but it was as well a team effort based on great organisation. That is lacking now at most of the clubs.
8. You played for both Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04. What was it like to play for two such fierce rivals?
Lehmann: Schalke was fantastic but I have not realized beforehand that I actually disappointed a lot of people by moving to Dortmund from Milan. Eventually I managed to convince most of the Dortmund supporters but it was very hard at times.
9. Run us through that memorable stoppage time goal that you scored against Dortmund in the 1997 Revierderby.
Lehmann: Well, the final minutes of the game started with us 1-2 down. So because I am tall I went forward and sniffed an opportunity by running to the second post. Thomas Linke tipped a header to me and I knew by the flight of the ball that I was not going to miss that chance.
10. The German national team has shown a lot of promise over the past few years but still can’t seem to achieve success in terms of silverware. What do you think the team is lacking?
Lehmann: So far they have lacked being absolutely focused and determined when it matters. I hope that this will change.
11. Given how Barcelona use Victor Valdes and Bayern use Manuel Neuer, how important is it for teams to have a ball playing goalkeeper?
Lehmann: Very important as most of the time the game is starting from the back.
12. Have you considered going into coaching in the future? Where could we see you in the future?
Lehmann: I have made my pro-licence now at Arsenal and hope to get a chance somewhere.
13. How useful is it to use data analysis in sport? Everybody remembers that moment when you used the data provided by students from Cologne in the quarter final against Argentina in 2006. Could you have one that game without it?
Lehmann: The data was provided by Huub Stevens, an ex-coach of mine, not by students. Obviously it helped in terms of irritating the Argentinians.
14. Best attacker you’ve played against?
Lehmann: Thierry Henry.
15. Your footballing idol?
Lehmann: I liked Lothar Matthäus and some others.
TheHardTackle would like to thanks Jens Lehmann for taking his time of and doing this interview