Lehmann gets a stay of execution
FORMER Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann could have been dropped for Sunday's Euro 2008 final were there any experienced alternatives at Germany's disposal.
However, it seems that he will be given one more chance to rescue a miserable season.
After Wednesday's win over Turkey, the German even said that victory would enable him to make a point to Arsene Wenger that he should still be their first choice goalkeeper.
Quite what point that would be remains in doubt because the 38-year-old has not exactly disproved the school of thought that he has become a liability in recent years.
Partly at fault for both Turkey's goals, he nevertheless said that his "difficult season was down to the manager".
"We have some discussion about that and I always told him what I was thinking about his decision," Lehmann said. "But I'm quite proud to represent Arsenal in the final."
Proud of Arsenal but he is technically a Stuttgart player these days, having joined on a free transfer last month.
While the simmering tension is always present in Lehmann, who seems to feel the slight of being replaced by Manuel Almunia no less keenly over time, there was no disguising his excitement at the prospect of winning Euro 2008, only his second tournament as Germany's first-choice goalkeeper
"It would mean a lot to win it," Lehmann said. "In my career I was very fortunate, every team I played for I made it to a European Cup Final. So I hope to win this time. We were quite fortunate to get the equaliser so soon because you felt right from the beginning that it was going to be a tough game.
"Somehow having six days off kills the team a little -- every team that had five or six days off got knocked out of the tournament. We felt this little break really interrupts your rhythm. The first goal was a warning for us because then we came back into the game."
The increasing influence of Michael Ballack in the Germany camp was evident once more when he hinted that he was behind the decision to bring on Torsten Frings at half-time in place of Simon Rolfes, who had picked up a head injury.
Like the rest of his German team-mates, Ballack said that he believed Germany had deserved to win, despite Turkey's best efforts. He did not apologise for the fact that Germany had won despite not playing at their best.
"When you score a goal like that it doesn't matter how you score it but it was our best move of the game," Ballack said.
"You can see what is possible when you have the will to win. I think it was a very tough game. We had something to do the whole game.
"We played quite badly and fought for the whole game so our progress certainly wasn't based on playing nicely. But then Philipp (Lahm) then finished his chance really well."
Turkey's manager Fatih Terim is poised to leave the job and Rustu, the veteran goalkeeper at fault for Miroslav Klose's goal on Wednesday night, has retired from international football after his 118th cap.
Colin Kazim-Richards, the London-born son of a Turkish-Cypriot mother, said, with characteristic bombast, that he hoped the tournament would just he beginning to his international career.
"I've seen a glimpse of my future, and pray to God that my career can carry on in the direction it is going," he said.
"I think I've proved a lot of people wrong, and I hope the people who've doubted me keep doubting as it motivates me.
"I hope that everyone isn't satisfied. I don't call them haters as some people call them, I call them motivators. They motivate me to do well and keep proving people wrong.
"I love it when I see people who said to me two years ago, 'You'll never be anything'. Personally I thought I had a good game in a semi-final of the European Championship against Germany, who will very possibly win the tournament." (© Independent News Service)