Tomas Rosicky quick to forgive Jens Lehmann for stealing decisive penalty in Arsenal legends game
LONDON -- Former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann couldn't hide his competitive spirit even in a charity game, as he "stole" the decisive penalty from Tomas Rosicky against Real Madrid's legends on Saturday.
Rosicky was quick to forgive his former teammate, although Arsenal's coach for the day, David O'Leary, said he "was ready to kill" the goalkeeper.
With Lehmann having made the only save in a penalty shootout following a 0-0 draw at the Emirates, the German decided to take matters into his own hands. The stage had been set for fan favourite Rosicky to be the hero on his return to the Emirates, but as the midfielder started walking up to the spot for the final kick, Lehmann made it clear he was taking it himself.
Fortunately, the goalkeeper backed up his decision by sending a perfect strike into the top left corner to seal the victory.
"Jens Lehmann stole it from me," Rosicky said with a shrug, before accepting that the goalkeeper was simply being true to his character. "I was all right with it, because I've known Jens for a very long time, we used to play together even in Dortmund. So I was expecting something like this."
O'Leary, the former Arsenal defender and Aston Villa manager who was in the dugout for the day, was less forgiving.
"I was ready to kill him," O'Leary said. "I told him I wanted Tomas Rosicky to score. I can't tell you what he told Tomas Rosicky when he went up to take the ball. But he was quite adamant that he was going to take the last penalty. I was ready and waiting for him if he didn't [score].
"But what a penalty. His only words he said to me was, 'What was the big deal?' And we know what Jens is like, he's got a presence about him."
Lehmann himself claimed it was only a simple misunderstanding.
"I didn't know it was [Rosicky's] turn. I thought it was my turn," he said.
Lehmann was one of Arsenal's standout performers during the 90 minutes as well, making several good saves to deny Ruben De La Red and Alberto Rivera to secure the clean sheet. He had to play the full game after David Seaman, who had been set to start, pulled a calf muscle during warmups.
This wasn't the first time Lehmann ruined the moment for Rosicky in a charity match. He also saved a penalty from the former Czech Republic international during the midfielder's own testimonial match in Prague in June.
"That's why I know what I'm saying when I speak about him," Rosicky said. "I was expecting it from him."