'HENRY WAS THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD' - LEHMANN

Observer on Saturday - - Sport - Goal AFP

Jens Lehmann be­lieves that Thierry Henry 'was the best player in the world' when he was at Ar­se­nal, but re­vealed how he helped the France for­ward im­prove his over­all game by en­cour­ag­ing him to work harder in train­ing.

Lehmann joined the Gun­ners in 2003 and played ev­ery match as Arsene Wenger's 'In­vin­ci­bles' side made his­tory by win­ning the Pre­mier League ti­tle with­out los­ing a sin­gle fix­ture.

In his new au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, the goal­keeper re­veals that although he played

PARIS -

with some of the world's big­gest names, the player that stood out above them all was the French­man. "Over the years, I have been lucky to have had the plea­sure of play­ing with a lot of very good foot­ballers, from Olaf Thon to Andi Moller and Lothar Matthaus," Lehmann wrote in an ex­tract ex­clu­sive re­leased to Om­nis­port. "In the end, how­ever, it was Henry who im­pressed me most.

"Not only with his speed and the spec­ta­cle he would cre­ate on the pitch but with that so very dif­fer­ent, in­tel­li­gent per­son­al­ity of his. To me, Thierry Henry dur­ing his Ar­se­nal years was the best player in the world."

How­ever, the for­mer Ger­many in­ter­na­tional de­tails how he al­most got on the wrong side of Ar­se­nal's star striker in one of his first train­ing ses­sions at the club: "In one of my first train­ing games, I was on a team with Henry, and when he lost the ball once, I did what I still do to this day: get play­ers mov­ing. 'Hey, Thierry! Go on, pur­sue the ball, go and get it!'

"Henry, whose ex­tra­or­di­nary abil­i­ties meant he was al­ready con­sid­ered Eng­land's real king, lifted his head an­other few inches and abused me in French. Ev­i­dently, I had com­mit­ted lese-majesty. We Ger­mans ousted the no­bil­ity more than eight years ago, I thought to my­self, so now, ev­ery­one had bet­ter run the same length.

"Sub­se­quently, af­ter each loss of pos­ses­sion, I goaded him fur­ther, un­til even the oth­ers took no­tice and Henry could no longer sim­ply come to a stand­still, won­der­ing what sort of id­iot was stand­ing in that goal. Even­tu­ally, he ran af­ter lost balls – noth­ing spe­cial to me, but ap­par­ently a huge step for our col­leagues.

"I had not meant to show him up; I merely con­sid­ered my­self a player of a cer­tain sta­tus who was in some charge when it came to his team­mates. I was, af­ter all, the only player be­sides Den­nis Bergkamp who had won the UEFA Cup.

"I was ahead of even Thierry in that re­spect, although, of course, he had won the World Cup and the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship, just like Pa­trick Vieira, Robert Pires and Syl­vain Wil­tord. Over time, we de­vel­oped a very, very good re­la­tion­ship based on mu­tual ap­pre­ci­a­tion."

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