Gael Clichy has a new favourite footballer and, funnily enough, it is Jens Lehmann, the keeper who saved the 88th-minute penalty the full back conceded at Villarreal in the Champions League Semi-Final on Tuesday.

Once the dust has settled on an achingly tense tie in Spain, history will judge Clichy's contribution with kindness. The 20-year-old full back, returning to the Arsenal squad after almost six months out, was forced off the bench after just nine minutes when Mathieu Flamini picked up an injury.

There were signs of rust but generally he performed well. However all that hard work looked like it was going to tumble down around him two minutes from time when Clichy was adjudged to have bundled over Jose Mari in the area.

"When I came on, it was one of my dreams coming true," said the French Under-21 international. "It was great. Nobody needed to tell me anything because I knew the job I had to do.

"In the last minute, things could have changed and gone bad for me. I did not touch him and it was not a penalty - you can see that on the TV - I did not touch him.

"It could have been the worst for us as a team, so I just said thank you to Jens. He said to me 'you do not have to thank me, you played not too bad'. Right now, if someone asks me who is my favourite player in the world, I would say Jens Lehmann."

Clichy predicts the home crowd will be supporting Arsenal for the Champions League Final in Paris on May 17 and believes his side must draw from their experiences in this season's competition no matter who wins Wednesday's other Semi-Final.

"We will be the team at home because in France, everyone supports Arsenal," said Clichy. "It is France-nal!

"We just hope to do something good for the fans. Milan and Barcelona are two great teams - maybe two of the best in the world.

"We will just have to wait, but whoever we face we will just have to play our game, like we did against Madrid and Juve."

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26 Apr 2006