Wednesday 21 May 1997 is certainly a memorable day for Germany Star Sixes keeper Jens Lehmann.
He was 26 at the time as he and his Schalke 04 team arrived at the San Siro in Milan to face Internazionale in the second leg of the UEFA Cup Final – the last time the competition’s climax was played over two legs.
Leading 1-0 on aggregate from the first match in Gelsenkirchen two weeks earlier, thanks to Marc Wilmots’ strike, Schalke had one hand on the cup.
And they had chances to extend their lead but were denied by Italian stopper Gianluca Pagliuca.
With just six minutes remaining, Iván Zamorano levelled things up in the tie, nipping in on the end of Paul Ince’s flick to score from a tight angle past Lehmann. But the German would have the final say. Despite going down to ten men on the stroke of full-time when Salvatore Fresi received a second yellow card, Maurizio Ganz almost nicked an extra-time winner for Roy Hodgson’s Inter, but his lob struck the bar.
So the game moved into penalties and it was Lehmann’s time to shine. Schalke went first and Ingo Anderbrügge slammed home to put pressure on the Nerazzurri.
Next Zamorano stepped forward, planting his effort towards the keeper’s left corner, but Lehmann guessed right and, at full stretch, repelled the Chilean’s shot. The Germans kept scoring, and though Youri Djorkaeff netted Inter’s second kick, Aron Winter blazed their third wide of the post. It left Wilmots with the task of clinching victory and he sent Pagliuca the wrong way from the spot.
That penalty save made Lehmann a hero at Schalke as he lifted his first major piece of silverware. His next trophy two years later also came at the San Siro, this time as a Serie A champion with Inter’s rivals AC Milan.
He also won titles back in Germany with Dortmund, then as part of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ in 2004, but that night in Milan was simply magical for Lehmann.
Make sure you don’t miss Lehmann in action for Germany again at the inaugural Star Sixes tournament at The O2, where 12 international teams will go head-to-head from 13-16 July for the first trophy. Get your tickets by visiting Ticketmaster or AXS.