Frank Lampard has confirmed his retirement from the England national team. The news broke on Twitter courtesy of the Sky Sports HQ account:
101 Great Goals provides Lampard's full statement, released by Steve Kutner Management Ltd, in which he cites the next generation as a key part in his decision to step aside:
The 36-year-old made 106 appearances for the Three Lions in a career that spanned 15 years, making his full England debut in a 2-1 win against Belgium back in 1999.
Having netted his first ever England goal four years later against Croatia, the former Chelsea man retires as England’s most prolific midfielder of all time, having found the back of the net on 29 occasions in national team colours.
Lampard played his final game for Roy Hodgson’s side in the 2014 World Cup, where he captained the team in their 0-0 draw against Costa Rica.
The news of Lampard’s retirement comes after Steven Gerrard—a player who Lampard regularly partnered in England’s midfield—also confirmed his decision to walk away from international football last month. Ashley Cole, another England centurion, announced his retirement from the international game prior to the 2014 World Cup.
Having enjoyed a glittering career at club level, the Manchester City midfielder will surely walk away from the international scene—as will the aforementioned duo—with bittersweet emotions. Lampard has been an indisputably fine servant to the national team, illustrated emphatically by his haul of caps. But neither he nor his England teams shone brightly enough on the biggest stage.
Indeed, Lampard’s best moments in an England shirt came in his first ever major tournament back in Euro 2004, a competition where England reached the quarter-finals. Lampard netted three goals in four games and was named in UEFA's Team of the Tournament.
The then-Chelsea man was a breath of fresh air for England at those European Championships in Portugal, but he was never quite able to replicate that level of performance again, as noted here by Samuel Luckhurst of the Huffington Post:
He was uncharacteristically poor for England at the 2006 World Cup and his tournament in 2010 will be forever remembered for his goal that never was against Germany. Even in that tournament, Lampard was unable to perform to a level anywhere near the performances he was putting in for Chelsea.
Under Hodgson he has never been a guaranteed starter, although the England boss has clearly valued his leadership and experience enough to regularly preserve his place in the squad.
Despite featuring scarcely for Chelsea during the 2013-14 season Lampard was named in the squad for the Brazil World Cup, but he was powerless to help an abject England, who crashed out of the tournament without winning a game.
When Hodgson chose to give Lampard the armband for England’s final game in that competition—a dead rubber clash with Costa Rica—there was always a sense that his retirement would come sooner rather than later.
The player’s decision to sign for New York City FC and embark on a new chapter of his career was surely a catalyst in his decision too. And while Hodgson will find it difficult to replace a player who’s been to a myriad of major tournaments and won the full set of honours at club level, even the staunchest Lampard backer will find it difficult to argue against the notion that this was the right time for the midfielder to step aside.
With Cole, Gerrard and Lampard now out of the picture, the remnants of the doomed “Golden Generation” are finally scarce. From an England perspective, hopefully this can allow Hodgson the freedom to build a vibrant young core that can take the Three Lions forward without the shadow of iconic figures hanging over the squad.
With Lampard gone, young players like Ross Barkley, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jordan Henderson will have even more opportunities to gather crucial experience as England look to push on towards a brighter future. These are players that may have found themselves on the fringes of the team had the legendary Blues man chosen to extend his international career.
Lampard was a player who gave his all for his country and was a man that oozed pride when donning the Three Lions jersey. He remains an excellent role model and is one of the greatest goal-scorers England has ever produced.
But like so many of his generation, for one reason or another, he failed to replicate his very best form on the international stage. And while Lampard’s 106 caps and 29 goals will reflect fondly on him in the history books, the truth is that his talent should have seen him sample so much more success with the Three Lions.