Former Arsenal keeper reveals he turned down Real Madrid

Jens Lehmann

Jens Lehmann bared all to Spanish publication Marca on a failed move to Real Madrid in 1998.

Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is currently working as a pundit and commentator in Germany - but with Marc-Andre ter Stegen heavily linked with a move to Barcelona Spanish paper Marca decided to get his opinion on the Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper.

But it would not be an interview with Marca without a Real Madrid question or two popping up in there.

Now Lehmann has a reputation for being, let’s say, a little bit eccentric.

The German often found himself in mad situations because of his erratic mind and was your archetypal ‘mad’ goalkeeper type.

Not to say it didn’t do him good - he was highly regarded at The Emirates and was often unbeatable when in top form.

But perhaps the maddest decision he ever made was back in 1998 - when he turned down Real Madrid for AC Milan.

At the time Bodo Illgner was getting on a bit and Iker Casillas was just a young whippersnapper making his way in the game. Meanwhile Santiago Canizares had just made the move to Valencia.

So Real were after a goalkeeper to challenge Casillas for the number one jersey for the foreseeable future and a German understudy to compatriot Illgner made sense.

So they approached Lehmann, who back then was with Schalke 04:

“A Madrid representative rang me and said they wanted to sign me. However, I chose Milan because at the time Serie A was considered better than La Liga. It was a mistake...I should have signed for Madrid.”

It certainly was a mistake. Lehmann’s time with the Rossoneri was unmemorable at best, and at worst a complete and utter catastrophe.

He struggled from the off and soon found himself out of the team.

He played just five times for the team before being dropped, and returned to Germany with Borussia Dortmund at the earliest convenience.

Who knows what would have been if he had joined Real Madrid?

image: © wonker

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