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'Boot Thief' Jens Lehmann Defends Himself

Following criticism in the German press from Hoffenheim trainer Ralf Rangnick, Stuttgart goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has hit back by saying he was only acting out of sense of health and safety when lobbing a stray boot off the pitch at the weekend.

Photos in Sunday’s Bild clearly showed the moment when Lehmann lobbed the loose boot from midfielder Sejad Salihovic way over his crossbar after it had come off in a challenge during the 3-3 draw.

Hoffenheim trainer Rangnick called Lehmann’s actions ‘unsportsmanlike’. However the former Germany international has hit back at the opinionated coach.

"Rangnick's comments surprise me a lot," Lehmann told the Bild newspaper.

"It is sad that he again seems not to know the rules and refers to me as unsporting.

"Normally the referee would have stopped the game and had to send the player from the pitch so he could put his boot back on.

"The boot lay there, representing an obstacle to a shot or a forward pass. If Rangnick watches everything so closely, like he always pretends, he would have known that I do this with all things which are in and around my area.

"I can only say for myself that in 20 years I have never seriously injured a player and that I again have to deal with cheap comments only because the people think they can make the headlines by using my name," Lehmann added.

Mathew Burt, Goal.com