Jens Lehmann claims he has helped Cesc Fabregas stay grounded when the two played together at Arsenal
GOAL published an exclusive extract from Lehmann’s new autobiography, The Madness is on the Pitch. The former Germany and Arsenal goalkeeper writes about how Fabregas joined the Gunners, and how important he was for Wenger.
“In my last year at Arsenal, for example, at just twenty years old, Cesc Fàbregas was suddenly a very important man,” Lehmann writes.
“I remember his first game for us, three years previously, in the Champions League away at Celta Vigo. We were standing in the lift together, his gaze glued fearfully to the floor like that of a fifth-grader on his way to the headmaster. Later, he was supposed to put a few crosses towards my goal as a warm-up but could not find any rhythm. ‘Cesc, you’re with the pros here; you should be able to manage a cross,’ I told him, resulting in his not hitting any ball at all any more.”
However, the former goalkeeper’s task changed once he was a team-mate of Fabregas in London.
“However, fast-forward a few years and he was suddenly at the top, with my task changing to telling him to stay grounded. Out of everyone in a team, it is the best ones who have to show respect to the others in order to be accepted as outstanding.”
In addition, the German praised Wenger’s ability to choose the best players and help them develop.
“Arsène Wenger had always had a great knack for good casting. Just how great it was only became clear when important players left the club. The first were Ashley Cole, Sylvain Wiltord, and Edu; followed by Patrick Vieira and Kanu; then Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pirès and Sol Campbell; finally, Alex Hleb and Mathieu Flamini to name only a few.”