Chelsea club doctors confirmed once that Frank Lampard’s unbelievable stamina was due to his freakishly large heart – most Chelsea fans did not need medics to tell us that. We saw that every time he pulled on the blue shirt. We saw that when he galloped the length of the Bolton pitch and secured us our first league title in 50 years; we saw that when he broke Bobby Tambling’s long standing goal scoring record ; we saw that when he captained Chelsea in the Munich Champions League Final; we saw it when he stepped up to take penalties; that goal against Barca – the list goes on and on but never was the size of his heart more evident than in the semi-final of the Champions league in 2008, less than a week after the death of his mother where with the scores level, he stepped up to take the crucial penalty – the picture of him after, on his knees, the raw devastation on his face evident for all to see, became one of the most iconic pictures of him ever.
It was Claudio Ranieri who bought the then 22 year old West Ham player to Stamford Bridge for what now looks an absolute steal at £11million. After an unremarkable start we started seeing glimpses of the player he was going to be as he progressed year on year – in 2004 he became Chelsea’s Player of the Season – an accolade he would win twice more.
But it was under Jose Mourinho that the midfielder really flourished although Frank’s own determination should not be underestimated either. Lampard has always been very self deprecating in terms of his talent – he states that as he was never as naturally gifted as many of his counter parts hence he had to work much harder to reach the highest level. He was known for being an obsessive trainer – always staying back after coaching sessions had finished, practicing penalties, free kicks and ball control. Mourinho described him as the “best professional ever” and even tried to lure him to Inter Milan when he was manager there.
In 2005 Real Madrid fans held a vote as to which player they would most like their club to sign – they overwhelmingly voted for Frank Lampard. Given some of the great players that have graced the Bernabeu they obviously recognised class when they saw it.
Privately educated, articulate and intelligent, he bucks the trend of what many imagine when they think of a footballer. A couple of misdemeanours early in his career do not detract from the fact that he has been an ambassador for our club in every sense of the word for over a decade.
I do not need to list his achievements, the records, he has broken and the trophies he has won – that information is readily available for anyone that wishes to look it up. It is suffice to say that it has been an extraordinary career and the majority of it has been with us.
Anyone that has met him will tell you how down to earth, friendly and unassuming he is. A player who has always appreciated the fans and we in return have taken him as one of our own.
Of course we knew that this day would come – but it doesn’t make it any easier.
I am not one for retiring shirts, but I do think that many players will be loath to take that number 8 shirt – it is a big ask to do it justice – to even come close in fact. For those of us that have been privileged enough to witness the whole of his career with us, it will always be Lampard’s shirt.
It’s going to be hard seeing him in another shirt – in someone else’s colours – not right somehow.
So it only remains for me to wish him the very best, to thank him for every extraordinary high he has given us, for every goal, for every trophy. An extraordinary player who was fundamental in the most successful period in our history – a legend in every sense of the word.
Ladies and gentlemen, Frank Lampard has left the building.
Posted by Trizia
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