Jens Lehmann has revealed the moment he fell in ‘love’ with the physicality of English football with the former Arsenal goalkeeper recalling a fiercely-contested clash between the Gunners and Manchester United.
Lehmann initially spent five seasons with the north London side before a brief second spell later in his career, forming part of the famed Invincibles side that completed an entire league season without defeat to be crowned as Premier League champions in his debut campaign.
The former Germany international has now recalled a clash with title rivals early in his Arsenal career as the moment he fell in ‘love’ with English football, a fiery encounter between the sides ending in a goalless draw at Old Trafford in 2003.
Ruud van Nistelrooy’s late penalty miss memorably sparked an on-pitch clash between the two sets of players, in a memorable fixture that saw seven players cautioned and Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira sent off.
Lehmann admits the unforgiving physical nature of the Premier League instantly won his affections, the goalkeeper’s tempestuous personality having previously seen him dismissed on several occasions at former side Borussia Dortmund.
“There was a very tight moment at Manchester United,” Lehmann told Arsenal’s ‘In Lockdown’ podcast.
“After the game I called home and said, ‘I love English football. They push you, they punch you, you punch them, you push them and nobody gets sent off!’ It was perfect.
“After four or five days I learnt that three United players and four or five of our players were suspended for a game. Sometimes it didn’t happen on the pitch, the punishments came afterwards.
“I was actually quite proud that at Dortmund, I got sent off five times. I never got sent off at Schalke or Milan – I only got sent off at Dortmund. At Arsenal, I managed to stay on, unfortunately except for one occasion [in the 2006 Champions League final].”