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Jens When I fell in love with English football

Jens Lehmann

When Jens Lehmann joined us in 2003, he certainly wasn't averse to the robust nature of the Premier League. 

Speaking exclusively to our 'In Lockdown' podcast, our former goalkeeper explained how he fell in love with English football on a dramatic afternoon at Old Trafford in 2003.
 
"There was a very tight moment at Manchester United,” Lehmann said. "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]."

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O'Leary George took no prisoners with me

George Graham

David O'Leary spent seven years under George Graham and won six major trophies. 

But when our record appearance-maker was approaching the end of his 20-year career at the club in 1993, he says our former manager pulled no punches.
 
"George was a great manager, but he didn't take any prisoners," O'Leary told our 'In Lockdown' podcast. "His attitude was, 'Yeah, you've done 20 great years at Arsenal but there's no sympathy here, it's time to move on. We believe that you've done your time for us.' That was his attitude.

"George had no sympathy, [he wasn't] thinking, 'We'll give you another year or two years.' Do I think I could have done more? Yes. Was I a bit disappointed that I wasn't offered another contract? Yes, because I think I could have still played a role. Not to play as many games maybe, but to help out with the reserves, to be there fit and ready if the club needed me.
 
"I didn't want the sympathy vote or to get another years contract because I'd done 20 at the club. George wasn't that type. I wouldn't have wanted it that way. 
 
"The last game, Wembley, it's a brilliant place if you win and I remember that Manchester United game, the way we won there. The ending and the whole lot. When I came down the steps that night and walked around... when you win it's great to share it with your fans because you know how much it means to them as well. 
 
"It hit me all of a sudden that in about 100 yards time I'd be going down that tunnel, taking that jersey off and it would be for the last time. So it was a very mixed emotion that hit me going around the stadium afterwards. 
 
"I was saying, 'David in a couple of minutes time you're going to be back in that dressing room and that jersey is going to come off. You've been putting that jersey on for this great club for 20 years and you're not going to be able to put it on any longer.' I had mixed emotions in the dressing room about that."

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