Chelsea supporters all over the world are mourning the end of an era. On Monday June 2, Frank Lampard confirmed their fears by announcing that he would be leaving the club when his contract expires at the end of the month, per the Official Chelsea website.
While this day had been coming for a while, there is still a sense that Chelsea’s greatest ever player should have been allowed to end his career with the club he has served so well over the last 13 years. What is important now is that his legacy is imparted to the next generation of players.
When I arrived at this fantastic club 13 years ago I would never have believed that I would be fortunate enough to play so many games and enjoy sharing in so much success. This club has become part of my life and I have so many people to thank for the opportunity.
Lampard was never the most naturally gifted footballer. When he was promoted to the West Ham first team in 1996, a disgruntled Irons supporter took Harry Redknapp to task over it, thinking that he was in the side because of the family connection. Redknapp responded perfectly, and his comments turned out to be entirely prophetic.
Super Frank did not get to where he is today by being the son of Frank Sr., the nephew of ‘Arry or the cousin of Jamie Redknapp. He reached the point where he has won a complete set of honours available to players at the top of the English game through hard work and determination. Even last season, at 35 years old, Lampard would stay behind after training to do extra work. Whether it was conditioning in the gym or working on his shooting, Lampard gave everything he had to continuously improve.
When Jose Mourinho told him that he was the best player in the world, he was not wrong. Sure, there are players who have a greater technical ability, players who make the game look easy, who dazzle us on a weekly basis with their tricks and flicks. However, none of them can rival Lampard’s dedication to making himself a better player.
Mourinho played a key role in assuring Frank that his work did not go unnoticed, and it has reaped so many rewards. He is the top-scoring midfielder in Premier League history, all-time top scorer for Chelsea and is the only player to have won the Player of the Year award three times.
You might expect someone who had spent his career proving critics wrong time and again to have an air of “I told you so” about him. Not Frank.
Despite being called “Fat Frank” by rival supporters, Lampard has never lauded his success over others, while he spoke highly of every player and manager he has worked with over the years.
All the managers and coaches who have helped me develop my game during the time I have been here. I have learnt from every one of them. All the brilliant team-mates who I have been lucky enough to train and play alongside for so long. Not just their football qualities but also the friendships I have gained along the way.
He understands that football is not about one man, however key they are to the success of the club. Even with his own work-ethic, he knows that it would have amounted to nothing were it not for the people around him. In particular, Frank recognised the importance of the supporters to a football club.
Finally and most importantly, I would like to thank the Chelsea fans. I believe they are the greatest fans in world football. You have supported me from the moment I arrived. Not only on the pitch, but in difficult moments in my personal life off the pitch. I will never forget.
I feel honoured to have shared so many special times with you. Bolton, Amsterdam, Munich, the list goes on and on. I, and we as a team, could not have achieved those moments without your support.
Whatever the next challenge is for me I will always be amongst you and have Chelsea in my home and in my heart.
The Chelsea that Frank Lampard joined in 2001 was a very different club to the one he leaves today. Now, players are joining Chelsea as an established “big club,” one that has won everything available, thanks in no small part to Super Frank. The next generation of players should be aspiring to make the same kind of difference he did through hard work, humility and the passion to keep making history.
Quotes from Lampard’s statement taken from Sky Sports.