Lehmann lampoons Cole over autobiography

December 7, 2006

Jens Lehmann has told Ashley Cole he deserves any abuse he will take from Arsenal fans at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and mocked his decision to write an autobiography at such a young age.

Cole left north London for Chelsea last August in the most controversial transfer in Premiership history which initially began amid accusations of 'tapping-up' in January 2005.

The 25-year-old England left-back eventually left for £5million in a deal that also saw William Gallas move in the opposite direction, ending a bitter chapter in the clubs' rivalry.

But Arsenal supporters were further enraged by the subsequent publication of Cole's autobiography, 'My Defence', in which he declared he had been 'betrayed' by the Gunners' offer of a £55,000 per-week contract.

Other parting shots were fired at his former employers, guaranteeing a hostile reception from visiting fans in Sunday's Premiership showdown - the first time the clubs will have met since the transfer.

Lehmann, 37, insists he will deserve the stick and labelled the publication of a book at such an early stage of a player's career as an 'English habit'.

'Of course Ashley should expect criticism from supporters on Sunday. He should get criticism. That is football. It makes the game exciting,' he said.

'If he didn't it would have meant that he wasn't an important player, but he was. He was a vital member of our squad and we enjoyed some major successes with him.

'So obviously he should expect some negative emotions when he plays against Arsenal.

'I do not understand why young players write books. I do not know why a player at 25 wants to tell me all about their big experiences.

'When I consider the age I am now, I would have a lot to tell people. But it seems to be an English habit to come out with books that nobody needs.

'I don't know if Cole should have waited before writing his book but the English mentality seems to be different to elsewhere.

'I will probably write one when I retire. But I am a bit older than these players. As I said, what is the point of writing a book at 25?'

Lehmann's opinion is backed by sales figures for the autobiography which has sold only 4,000 copies but the German keeper insists he understands Cole's reasons for leaving Ashburton Grove.

'I always liked Ashley. We had some major success together and I'm looking forward to playing against him,' he said.

'I will see if he has become stronger since going to Chelsea. It will be good to play against him. He is young and has made some mistakes, but I don't really care about that.

'For me, he is a nice guy and a fantastic player. He has gained a lot from his experiences at Arsenal but it was time for him to move onwards.

'You can't really blame him for the decision he made. That's life. He's a nice lad and a very good player.'