In a West Ham AGM in 1996, an animated Harry Redknapp, the then Hammers boss, reacted badly to a fan who questioned the inclusion of Frank Lampard in Harry’s first team plans, citing the player’s lack of talent and ability as the key reasons for his exclusion. Redknapp defended the player with a passionate statement saying that one day Lampard would be one of the best midfielders in the world. He continued by saying that the talented youngster would break records for club and country and would have a legacy that the fan would regret. Some 17 years on, it’s as if Redknapp could see the future as everything he predicted has come true. Lampard, through a strong work ethic and determination, has become one of the world’s best midfielders, breaking records for Chelsea as well as playing a pivotal role for his country over the past 14 years.
Lampard’s career with Chelsea has been nothing short of impressive since signing for the club in 2001 for a fee of £11 million. The midfielder has been a constant goal threat, banging in at least 10 goals a season for the past 10 years. This has helped Lampard to reach an amazing 195 goals for Chelsea in all competitions. His consistency made him a first pick on the team sheet for many a manager and during his time at Chelsea, Lampard has broken the record for the most ever Premier League appearances with the club with an amazing 384 matches under his belt.
His form at club level propelled Lampard to the next stage of his career, a place within the England national team. Since making his debut in the 2-1 victory over Belgium in October 1999, Lampard has featured regularly for the national side at the heart of the midfield, usually accompanied by his partner in crime, Steven Gerrard. Over the past 14 years, Lampard has amassed 93 caps and has scored 26 goals, including vital strikes against World Champions Spain in a 1-0 victory at Wembley in 2011 and a disallowed goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup that has caused many to call for the introduction of goal line technology. Having played a vital role in the winning of many Premiership titles, cups and international games, Lampard will go down in history as a legend for both Chelsea and England.
Despite his advancing years, Lampard’s has continued to improve his game. For most of his career, Lampard has been an attacking midfielder, operating either as a central midfielder who pushes forward or as an advanced player who played behind the lone striker. But as the years have progressed, Lampard has taken up the role of a more defensive playmaker, using his extensive range of passing and awareness of the game he is in to maximum effect. For the Premiership’s greatest goal scoring midfielder (194 goals in 584 games), it has surely been a hard adjustment but Lampard has no sign of struggling to adapt. Whilst this means that his goal tally has been reduced, his overall play has increased, with the player passing more freely and openly than ever before.
Chelsea may be making yet another mistake with their contract policy that echo’s Arsenals – no player over 30 will be offered more than a one year contract. Having adopted the same policy whilst negotiating with Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, the club ended up releasing the player who briefly joined Chinese club, Shanghai Shenhua, before signing on recent at Galatasaray. Arsenal’s policy may have worked for them but to be fair they have never had a player like Lampard in their ranks, who at 34 still has a lot to offer. But Chelsea are unlikely to change their mind and will allow Lampard’s contract to end in the summer, much to the player’s disappointment.
The question remains over what will be Lampard’s next move. Reports suggest that Lampard’s next move is to join Los Angeles Galaxy as David Beckham’s replacement. Originally thought to be chasing Real Madrid star Kaka, it would appear that they have lost out on this opportunity due to Kaka’ demands, with the player now likely bound for his old club AC Milan. LA has switched their attention back to Lampard, with manager Bruce Arena talking to the press about Lampard only a week ago:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if over the next week or so we’re going to have some sort of decision with a designated player. We wouldn’t rule a move for Lampard out. It’s always a possibility.”
The midfielder is keen to move as he looks to continue his career for a few more years yet. In the US, he will find a slower paced league where Lampard can showcase his superb passing ability and keen eye for goal. Chelsea’s loss could be Galaxy’s gain if the player if to make the move across the water. It will be yet another chapter in the success story of Frank Lampard who would give anything to meet that fan again from the 1994 AGM to show to him how wrong he was.