Frank Lampard's England Retirement Inevitable After Chelsea Exit

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Frank Lampard's England Retirement Inevitable After Chelsea Exit
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Frank Lampard has announced his retirement from international football.

The former Chelsea midfielder joined New York City FC this summer and is currently on loan at the MLS outfit's parent club, Manchester City, until the New Year.

Regardless of his age, playing in America while traveling back and forth to represent England was always going to be a considerable hurdle to overcome, and after much deliberation, Lampard has decided to call time with the Three Lions.

"It has been a very tough decision for me to make," Lampard explained, per BBC Sport.

"That is why I have given it so much thought since the World Cup.

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"I have always been exceptionally proud and honoured to represent my country and have to say, looking back, I have enjoyed every minute of wearing the England shirt."

When Lampard was released by Chelsea shortly before the World Cup, it was inevitable his international career was on borrowed time.

The 36-year-old has been a great servant for club and country this past decade or more, yet the end was nigh when Jose Mourinho sacrificed him in the name of evolution at Chelsea.

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Indeed, it's no coincidence Lampard's announcement comes in the week manager Roy Hodgson is set to announce his first post-World Cup squad for a friendly against Norway and a Euro 2016 qualifier with Switzerland.

Would Lampard have been part of that England group? It's unlikely.

This way, he goes out on his own terms. He hasn't been pushed, and his dignity remains intact.

It's a simple fact: Lampard can no longer perform consistently at the highest level.

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After finishing third last season, Chelsea needed to bring in players capable of performing every week to the standards of a championship-winning team.

They required vibrancy, energy and the stamina to last an entire campaign. They have carried too many stars down the years, and their squad was in need of shaking up.

After 13 years at the top, Lampard was in danger of becoming a player being carried. He was no longer a first choice, and for what they needed, he wasn't the player—Cesc Fabregas was.

For England, it's the likes of Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley and Jordan Henderson. Whether they can scale the heights Lampard has is another question altogether, of course.

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We saw a glimpse of the quality Lampard still has when he put in a fine display for England against Costa Rica at the World Cup.

Controlling the flow of the game from midfield, he had the look of a player 10 years his junior. It left many wondering why Hodgson hadn't deployed him earlier in the competition.

Had Hodgson done so, England may well have asserted more control against Italy and Uruguay instead of allowing games to pass them by as they crashed to two 2-1 defeats, going out of the competition in the process.

Like Mourinho at Chelsea, Hodgson must avoid the mistakes from the last year.

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For Chelsea, that means finishing this season as Premier League champions. Where England are concerned, a drastic improvement in results is required after a poor showing at the World Cup.

The transition from the so-called Golden Generation to the New Kids on the Block is complete for England now that Lampard has hung up his boots. The last few remnants of Sven-Goran Eriksson's side had remained in Brazil, but this is a new England moving forward without Lampard and Steven Gerrard.

It's always painful to say goodbye, but it is equally vital in the ever-changing world of football.

Lampard's legacy is a fine one, and it will be defined by much more than the countless trophies he lifted in Chelsea colours.

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He changed the perception of midfielders in the modern game, redefining what they should bring to a team, especially in the Premier League.

He scored 20 goals or more a season regularly for Chelsea, and every club suddenly wanted and needed a player of his ilk.

England desperately need one themselves. The only way they're going to find his replacement is by him not being around.

Frank, Super Frank, Lamps or just Lampard—whatever you want to call him: Here's looking at you, kid.

 

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes

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