Jens Lehmann has revealed he came face-to-face with Sir Alex Ferguson moments after his sending off in the 2006 Champions League final.
The former Germany international was given his marching orders just 18 minutes into the Paris showpiece after he brought down Samuel Eto’o when the Barcelona striker was clean through on goal. Ludovic Giuly turned the loose ball into the net but referee Terje Hauge opted to bring the play back and brandish the red card.
Sol Campbell subsequently gave Arsenal a shock lead but the Gunners were unable to hold on and the 10 men ultimately succumbed to late goals from Eto’o and Juliano Belletti.
In his new autobiography ‘The Madness is on the Pitch’, Lehmann, who returned to Arsenal this summer as a first team coach, recalls his frosty encounter with the former Manchester United manager shortly after the lowest point of his career.
‘After a few minutes, Thierry Henry had the first great chance, followed by two Spanish attempts on target which I could parry safely,’ he wrote. ‘Four minutes past nine, the infamous moment had come: Ronaldinho played his pass, Eto’o began to run, Lehmann grasped, [referee Terje] Hauge blew his whistle.
‘Following the dismissal, I slunk into the dressing room to put on a clean shirt. What was I to do now? For a few minutes, I sat around, irresolute, before climbing up the steps to the stands.
‘I bumped into Sir Alex Ferguson, who stared at me wide-eyed, as if he had seen Lucifer himself. ‘Bad luck,’ I said with a shrug, continuing on my way.
‘When I had eventually found a seat, I was joined by Lasse and Mats [his children], who had been sitting with my wife and brother. I pulled them onto my lap and finally began to tear up.
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‘There is no apt description nor any solace for this moment, in which all aims, hopes and ambition of the previous months disappear in a black hole of disappointment.
‘I suspected I would never again be part of a Champions League final but did not let the thought get to me at all.’