Germany's Lehmann hangs up boots

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The 38-year-old Germany and Arsenal veteran goalkeeper has retired from international football after his team's loss to Spain.

Updated: August 14, 2008 16:22 IST
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Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is retiring from Germany's national team.

The 38-year-old veteran decided to end his international career after a two-hour talk today with Germany coach Joachim Loew and goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke, the German football federation (DFB) said.

The former Arsenal goalkeeper decided it was time to give a younger player the chance of playing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the federation said. Lehmann left Arsenal after last season to join Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart.

"I could not give the coach any guarantee that I would continue to play football when my one-year contract with Stuttgart ends," Lehmann said. "That's why I told them that they should not plan with me any longer for the national team."

"I've had a great time in the national team over the past few years ... The World Cup in 2006 especially was fascinating and a unique experience for me," Lehmann said.

Lehmann's 61st and final game for Germany was in the 1-0 loss to Spain in the final of the European Championship on June 29. He played at three World Cup tournaments and three European championships.

His debut came in February 1998 in a 2-0 win over Oman. Lehmann was a reserve until he was promoted to Germany's No. 1 over Oliver Kahn before the 2006 World Cup at home, when Germany finished third.

Lehmann's often hostile rivalry with Kahn made headlines in Germany over the years, until then-coach Juergen Klinsmann decided to make him the starter.

Lehmann's penalty saves in the quarterfinal against Argentina allowed Germany to reach the semifinal, where it lost 2-0 to eventual champion Italy.

"It was a good talk. We were absolutely on the same wavelength in evaluating the situation," Loew said. "I thanked him for great performances. Our success at the 2006 World Cup is linked closely to his name because of the penalty shootout against Argentina. He also played a big role in our success at Euro 2008."

Lehmann also played for Schalke, Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund before going to Arsenal. He helped the Gunners reach the 2006 Champions League final, but was sent off after 19 minutes and Arsenal lost 2-1 to FC Barcelona.

Lehmann's departure leaves the position open, with Hannover's Robert Enke, who will be 31 later this month, and 23-year-old Rene Adler from Bayer Leverkusen thought to be the leading candidates. Both were reserves at the European Championship.

Loew has indicated that he may not immediately settle on a new No. 1 and that he may give several goalkeepers a chance to play before making a final choice for the 2010 World Cup.

Germany's first match after the summer break is a friendly against Belgium on August 20 in Nuremberg, before it starts qualifying for the World Cup at Liechtenstein on September 6. It also plays Finland, Russia and Wales in World Cup qualifying, before finishing the year with a friendly against England on November 19 in Berlin.

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