Wednesday, October 4, 2023

‘Mad’ Lehmann goes in two-footed on Gallas & Almunia

Jens Lehmann has a book coming out soon. It’s called The Madness Is On The Pitch and from the snippets being serialised in the Telegraph, ‘what a magic’ it looks to be.

As you’d expect, he doesn’t hold back. How could he? It’s Jens.

We particularly enjoyed reading the German’s character assassination of William Gallas, who was appointed Arsenal captain by Arsene Wenger ahead of the 2007/08 season.

The decision wasn’t particularly popular amongst the squad although it took until THAT 2-2 draw with Birmingham, the game that signalled the derailing of our title ambitions, for things to boil over.

There are also some very enjoyable passages detailing his rivalry with Manuel Almunia who was made first choice keeper at the start of the same season. At one point Jens even tried to goad the Spaniard into hitting him during training so that the boss would have no choice but to put him back between the sticks.

In fairness, he does also make clear that they were on friendly-enough terms off the pitch…well sometimes.

On Gallas being made club captain…

Having William Gallas head the team in the 2007/08 season was problematic. We had learned of his appointment in the papers and we all shook our heads. The previous season he had repeatedly turned up very late for training or had left the training ground without permission. With the promotion, Wenger apparently wanted to appeal to Gallas’s sense of responsibility, trying to turn him from Saul to Paul. Initially, this went successfully, until Gallas once briefly lost his nerve.

On Gallas’ behaviour during and after the Birmingham game…

Instead of standing at the edge of the area and clearing a possibly parried penalty like any other defender in the world, he abandoned the team, ran towards the halfway line and, in his anger, kicked an advertising hoarding.

After the match, which eventually ended 2–2 thanks to the converted penalty, he refused to leave the pitch but sat down in the centre circle like a sulky child, until the manager himself came to collect him. In the dressing room, Gallas came to blows with Gilberto, who accused him of seeking attention in a daft manner – the row dragged on for the remainder of the season. Finally, it contributed to us finishing only third, four points behind Manchester United, despite having been six points ahead in March.

On a training ground bust-up with Almunia…

When the match was over, I went up to him [Almunia]. ‘Listen, when something’s happening at my end, you’re not to yell at the back.’ That was when all his rage broke out of him. ‘What do you want, bastardo?’ ‘What are you saying? Why are you insulting me?’ I shot back. ‘Shut the f*** up, bastardo!’ came the reply. ‘Ah, at least now you’re openly saying what you really think of me,’ I said. ‘This is your true character – insulting colleagues!’

By now, the other players and the boss had noticed our argument and tried to calm us down, having to positively restrain Almunia so that he would not smack me. I, of course, would have welcomed him losing control, since that would have meant getting rid of a rival. Unfortunately, he cooled down again.

If you missed it yesterday, the Telegraph also have Jens’ take on Thierry Henry and the ‘Invincibles’, worth a read.


Jens Lehmann’s autobiography, The Madness is on the Pitch, is available for £10 at the moment from the publisher (deCoubertin). 

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Mad Jens. I miss him.


I loved Jens. Just an out and out winner. I will never ever forget that unbelievable moment he saved that penalty in the last minuted of the game against Villareal to take us to the Champions League final. Unreal player. To this day the whole situation with Alumnia still perplexes me. He was probably one of the worst players I have seen at Arsenal. It was so blindingly obvious he didn’t have it in his locker to make it at the highest level. We should’ve gotten rid of him many moons before we actually did. He always looked like he… Read more »

Kwame Ampadu Down

100% agreed. How Almunia was Arsenal no.1 for 3 years is beyond me. Not even close to being good enough.
Gotta love Jens though. Probably the only thing about his ‘Madness’ that I don’t like is that some people overlook quite how good a keeper he was because of it. He was superb.


That Almunia game against Barca though…


How can you not love this lunatic?!


did mad jens join us only to get his book sold?

anyway we need characters like him in the team. sadly missing his antics.

does he say how he played ninja mind tricks on van nistleroy during that penalty?


“Bastardo”. I am using this word from now on.


Such a competitor. If half the squad had half his competitiveness we would have won the LG several times over. That’s why players like him, Freddie, Rosicky and Santi are some of my fav Gunners. Talent isnt everything but work rate and passion can be.

Scott P

I think that bunch had plenty of talent to go along with work rate! Santi, the ambidextrous wonder 🙂

Willy\'s Willy

The penis of William Gallas is very sad to read this slander.


Reminded us of the old Wenger…Prozone and all. Wenger WAS ahead of his time then. Shame he’s fallen behind his peers.
I still remember THAT ucl final. I cried when we lost that game…I think we would’ve beaten Barca with 11 players. We probably would’ve equalized if Lehmann hadn’t fouled eto and he scored. Still remember how disappointed Pires looked when he was subbed. Hleb had a great game too.

Crash Fistfight

This is gonna get down-voted to hell because of the love that Pires (rightfully) receives on this site, but I thought Reyes should’ve started that game instead of Pires. Pires had barely played in the Champions League up to that point, and Reyes had done well (I thought), being among the players responsible for getting us there. Arsene did the same thing with Flamini and Cole in the final. Looking back, that decision probably did make a lot of sense, but at the time I thought it was wrong to drop the players that had got us to the final… Read more »


Yep I agree. Pires wasn’t that great that season tbh. Club was totally justified in not giving him a 2 year deal.



I disagree with that.

Considering we hand out huge contracts to players like Walcott these days… it is kind of maddening we didn’t offer Pires a better offer regardless.

Norwegian gooner

Back then we were a club that could get players because we actually were title contenders and we got to the Champions League final. We were in a position where it wasn’t impossible to drop a good player if we thought he was going down because we could always be able to grab ourselves a new one. Not to mention Arsene’s standing as a manager Now, it’s more like we need to cling on to anyone who isn’t below mid table because we aren’t guaranteed to get a good replacement. Arsene has lost a part of his standing as a… Read more »


Thought he fouled the little French fella, giuly?


He fouled Eto’o. Guily scored immediately after which contributed to pressuring the ref to give Jens the red.


What a set of balls Almunia has on him.

Who the hell calls Jens Lehmann a bastard(o).

Jimbo jones

Well done Gilberto. Another reason to love him


The last paragraph is genius.

Spanish Gooner

In all honesty I have always hated Gallas more than any other past player, including Cole, Nasri, Adebayor etc. His disgraceful performance as captain was the reason we did not win that title, and if we’d won the title once more would have come and key players would have stayed. Wanker.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Plus he only sees himself as a former Chelsea player and praises Mourinho who once accused him of threatening to score own goals if he wasn’t let go. Also accused Nasri of hiring people to beat him.

Bergkamp\'s Toe

This looks like an incredible read.


yet another bit of wenger magic, making gallas our captai


Left early etc what a great decision!


Pre ordered


I’m not one for player autobiographies, but holy hell I have to get this!


Reading roy keanes atm. Superb


Wtf happened to prozone? Did Wenger ace it?


Little bit handbrake


“All decisions I had made had been the right ones.” Brilliant. Love Jens!


Excellent article!


This was the start of slippery slope. One that has since been well and truly greased. Solution?
A change of direction is needed.


Was working in a South London A+E on the night of the Champions League final… couldn’t get day off despite all my pleas and tears. Finished with 15 mins to go… sat down in waiting room to watch on big tv… just as they equalised… was sitting next to a gloating Spud talking shit to some asshat on his phone. That was a low point.



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