Bernd Leno reveals how he became a goalkeeper | Gooner Talk

20
Jun

Bernd Leno reveals how he became a goalkeeper


Written by Cameron Ramsey

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Arsenal’s newest recruit of the summer transfer window, Bernd Leno, has revealed to the club’s official website how he became a professional stopper, a pathway which was shaped by many respected keeper’s of the past and present, including ex-Gunners favourite Jens Lehmann, who mentored the German athlete as an impressionable teenager.

Leno learnt his trade as a youngster at VfB Stuttgart, a club which has evidently been close to his heart for as long as he can recall, and when asked of his first memory of football, the agile keeper said:

“My first memories of football were my first game when I visited Stuttgart’s stadium. Since that point it was a dream to become a professional football player – and 15 years later I’ve signed for Arsenal. I can say I’m living my dream.

“It was in Stuttgart, my hometown. I was with my parents and my brother to watch the game against Bremen. I remember it was an exciting game, I was so nervous before it and I will never forget it.

It’s natural for a budding professional to idolise and adore specific players, heroes who’s traits and mannerisms are emulated in the playground and indeed on the training field.

Germany have produced a rich conveyor belt of world-class keepers in eras gone by and it’s safe to assume that Leno wasn’t short of role models, although there was one individual which stood out in his recollection, a studious stalwart that coached and trained him in his formative years at Die Roten.

“When I was a child, Iker Casillas was always my idol, but when I was at Stuttgart, there were many players, like Timo Hildebrand and Jens Lehmann. I watched many of Jens’ training sessions to learn from him. So yeah, they were my idols.

“I had some training sessions with him when I was very young, about 16 or 17 years old. Jens Lehmann was around 40 years old and for me it was very exciting. He was so concentrated, so professional and that’s the mentality that you need as a professional goalkeeper.”

Not every keeper is born as such, and for Leno, playing for his local club at the time, the starting keeper’s absence helped unlock his ambition to become one himself – they often say that you have to be impulsively mad to be a keeper, after all.

“I was a midfielder until I was nine or 10 years old. But the goalkeeper from my hometown club didn’t come to one game and I tried to play there. I was good and since then I never wanted to leave the goal!” He added.


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