I am fit enough to play for Arsenal, admits Jens Lehmann
The 41-year-old goalkeeper is gunning for another chance as No1
JENS Lehmann has admitted that he was still wondering what to do with his retirement when the call came from Arsene Wenger to set up his shock return to Arsenal.
The 41-year-old officially re-signed for the Gunners on a rolling one-month contract last Thursday and was on the bench for the 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns.
And Lehmann, whose first spell at the club was from 2003-2008, revealed he has kept in good shape in the 10 months since he officially retired from the game after two seasons in the German Bundesliga with Vfb Stuttgart.
“I was at the Barcelona [v Arsenal] game and after I got back I got a call in the morning from Gerry Peyton [Arsenal’s goalkeeping coach] and I realised he wanted me to get my gloves out again.
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“Arsene Wenger then called me and asked me if I was available. I said ok, let me talk to my wife, which I did, and so I am here.
“I knew there was a lack of goalkeepers and then led to a request for me. I didn’t expect it, but I am here and I am happy. It is an exciting finish to my career and I will try to get the best out of it.”
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Lehmann was anticipating a return to north London, but only to study some training sessions with a view to taking his coaching badges later this year.
“I got an offer from Neil Banfield, the reserves coach, to look at his training and do some sessions. So I was coming over for a week in March. Now I have come over for a different reason.
“The challenge ahead of me [after football] is I don’t know what suits me best and I was still thinking about that.
“I like to [still be involved] in the game, I think I have learned a lot about football and that is why I am doing my coaching badges as well.
“I could go into [the] administration [side] of a football club, or I could go into the media, I am looking forward to finding out which way I will go.”
Now he could be playing again, almost three years after his last appearance for the Gunners, and over 10 months since his last competitive game.
“I was wondering what would happen when he [Wojciech Szczesny] got injured. I crossed my fingers for Manuel and he had a great game at Barcelona.
“I am quite fit. I have trained with the side last week and I was tired but I recovered quickly which showed me I have kept quite fit.
“The sharpness will come. When I saw Manuel jumping around I thought I need to work a little bit to keep up with him.
“In terms of experience I am still good, I need to give that to the young lads and I hope to be successful. That is why I am here, and why the boss has asked me to come here. The boss said he knows that I am still fit, that I would be a great back-up.”
For Lehmann the situation now is reminiscent of his first season at the club when, in April 2004, Arsenal were going for the treble only to suffer Champions League heartache against Chelsea, and then FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United.
“I hope that Gael Clichy will remember – he is the last player who is left from that squad seven years ago. Now I am here as a second one and I hope to add some conviction to the players.”
If Lehmann plays for the Gunners in any game after April 17, he will become the oldest player in the club’s history, surpassing the existing record of 41 years and 159 days old set by Jock Rutherford in 1926.