Early Doors

Neuer’s Champions League penalty stop from Ozil was 21 years in the making

Franck Ribery did not play for Bayern Munich against Arsenal in the Champions League at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.

But the injured French winger didn't need to be part of Pep Guardiola's all-conquering side to know his goalkeeper Manuel Neuer would save Mesut Ozil's penalty early in the match.

"I said ahead of the penalty that Neuer would save it," said Ribery. "I trusted Neuer and he did it. He is the best goalkeeper around."

Perhaps Neuer knew all along he would stop Ozil's penalty.

But not because it was an awful spot-kick, hit straight down the middle and easy for the Germany goalkeeper to nudge clear with the faintest flick of a right paw.

Manuel Neuer saves Mesut Ozil's penalty early in the match.

There is a fair chance Neuer, 27, was saving a few of the Arsenal attacking midfielder's efforts when the pair played in a youth side back in Germany in the early 1990s.

There is also a fair chance Ozil - two years younger at 25 -walloped the ball harder back then than his miserable attempt at goal from the spot that contributed to Arsenal's crushing 2-0 defeat to the European champions.

Neuer and Ozil played football together and attended the same school - Gesamtschule Berger Feld school - in Gelsenkirchen around 1993, just yards from the home of the Bundesliga giants Schalke where they started off their respective careers before fate brought them together two decades on.

The pair are pictured before Germany's 4-1 win over England at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Little did the dynamic duo know then that they would play together in the German national side.

And little did they know then that Neuer would break Ozil's heart.

We're not sure if any other kids from the photograph made it to the big time, but we do wonder if the geezer in the tracksuit is a coach.

Or just big Per Mertesacker taking a stretch before the rest of his team-mates.