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August 20, 2009

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Lehmann to end career next year

FORMER Germany keeper Jens Lehmann, who will turn 40 in November, has decided to end his distinguished career at the end of the season.

Lehmann, who also enjoyed success with Arsenal from 2003 to 2008 before returning to Germany to play for Stuttgart, said he wanted to see one last year of Champions League action with his current club before retiring.

"Until the end of the season and then that is it," he told reporters in Romania before Stuttgart's 2-0 win against FC Timisoara for the Champions League qualification play-off on Tuesday.

"It will be good to move out of the spotlight for a bit."

Lehmann won 61 caps for Germany starting in 1998 and played his last match in his country's 1-0 defeat against Spain in the Euro 2008 final.

Explosive and often controversial, Lehmann would have won many more caps had it not been for rival Bayern Munich 'keeper Oliver Kahn, who dominated the national team for much of that period.

He was first choice at the 2006 World Cup, helping the hosts reach third place, after saving two penalties against Argentina in the quarterfinals, as well as the Euro 2008.

Outstanding for much of his tenure at Arsenal, he will also be remembered as the first 'keeper to be red carded in a Champions League final, for a foul on striker Samuel Eto'o in the 18th minute of the 2006 final defeat against Barcelona.

He returned to Germany and signed up for Stuttgart last year after a career that also saw him play for Schalke, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund.

Lehmann briefly flirted with a return to the national side late last season with Stuttgart finishing third in the Bundesliga, even postponing the publication of his autobiography in the hope of making one more World Cup appearance in South Africa next year.

However, Germany coach Joachim Loew quickly ruled out any international comeback for Lehmann.


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