Player Profile: Frank Lampard
Date of Birth: 20/06/1978
Height: 6 ft 0 in
National Team: England
International Caps: 106
International Goals: 29
In English football, a fierce debate rages over which player was the best, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard or Paul Scholes. The trio were part of a golden era for English midfield talent, and each had an impressive catalogue of personal achievements. Steven Gerrard was the workhorse who could drive a team forward on his own, bailing out his beloved Liverpool on so many occasions. Paul Scholes was the Pirlo-type deep-lying playmaker, capable of any number of absurdly difficult passes and the odd wonder goal too. For Frank Lampard, it was the goals which set him apart from the rest.
The fifth-highest scorer in Premier League history having only recently been overtaken by Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Lampard was as much a marksman as he was a fantasista. His eye for poaching a goal was remarkable. This, coupled with his vision and all-round attacking play made him a world-class player. His longevity too was stunning – only two players have made more Premier League appearances than Frank Lampard.
The first of these Premier League appearances came, not with Chelsea, but with his boyhood club, West Ham United. Under the stewardship of Harry Redknapp at Upton Park, Lampard made 187 appearances for the Hammers between 1995 and 2001, scoring 39 goals in the process. His exploits in his early career were enough to attract big-spending Chelsea, the club with which Lampard’s name would come to be synonymous in later years.
West Ham had proved the perfect place for Lampard to develop his gifts and by the time he arrived at Stamford Bridge he was already well on his way to becoming one of the best midfielders in the country. He would become a permanent fixture in the first team immediately after his arrival. He played all but one of Chelsea’s 01-02 season games and would maintain a similar level over the course of the next decade.
Under the management of Claudio Ranieri, Chelsea finished in 6th place in Lampard’s first season with the club. They improved on this position in the following campaign, with Lampard scoring six goals on route to a 4th place finish – Champion League football would be coming to Stamford Bridge for the first time in many years.
Ranieri continued to impress at Chelsea as he guided Lampard and his teammates to a second-place finish in the 03-04 season. But, in a decision which felt markedly unfair at the time, the Italian was relieved of his duties at the end of the season. Jose Mourinho would be his successor.
Though Ranieri’s sacking was brutal, it would turn out to be a turning point, both for Chelsea and for the Premier League in general. Mourinho, who was fresh from winning the Champions League with lowly Porto, won the Premier League in his first season at the helm and Lampard was a fulcrum of his hugely impressive team. He scored 13 goals in the league that season, 19 in all competitions as Chelsea also lifted the League Cup.
He would improve on this tally in the following campaign when Chelsea won the title yet again. It was the start of a five-season run in which Lampard would score 20 or more goals throughout the course of the campaign.
His best-ever goalscoring season came in 09-10. By this time, Lampard was under the stewardship of Italian legend Carlo Ancelotti. With his guidance, Lampard netted 22 times in the league that year. Ancelotti’s spell with Chelsea came after a relatively barren few years in which they won just one trophy, the FA Cup in 08-09. The fact that this run was considered barren at all shows the extent to which Chelsea improved in the early 2000s; by the end of the decade, they were expected to win competitions every year.
The last truly great season of Lampard’s distinguished career came in 11-12. Chelsea were under the management of Roberto Di Matteo at the time, although in theory only temporarily until they could find a permanent, more high-profile manager. But the ex-Chelsea player stunned the world when he oversaw a famous FA Cup and Champions League double. Chelsea’s run to the Champions League final was one of those rare events in sport that felt like fate.
Despite being the worse team in nearly all their games throughout the competition, the Blues scraped through to the final in Munich. There they looked destined to be defeated by Bayern Munich for whom the tournament showpiece was essentially a home game. But Didier Drogba scored an against-the-run-of-play equaliser, and Arjen Robben missed a penalty to set up a penalty shootout. Lampard scored the third penalty, paving the way for Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba to bag the decisive spot-kicks. When Lampard lifted the famous trophy alongside John Terry, it must have been one of the finest moments of his career.
Chelsea won the Europa League the following season but moments like these were few and far between in Lampard’s remaining years at Stamford Bridge. He left the club in 2014 to make the switch to New York City in the MLS. However, he would be back in the Premier League come the start of the following season, albeit in different colours…
When Frank Lampard joined Manchester City on loan in the 2014-15 season, it was to the British public’s sheer bewilderment. His was a face they were so used to seeing in royal blue; to see him line-up in sky blue was strange indeed. This feeling was intensified when one of Lampard’s six goals that season came against Chelsea themselves – Lampard, as you’d expect, didn’t celebrate.
His loan was due to the fact that MLS was in its off-season at the time of Lampard’s signing and, at the age of 34, he needed game time to maintain his fitness. As such, New York loaned Lampard to their affiliate club, Manchester City.
After arriving in America, Lampard played 31 games in all competitions over two seasons, scoring 15 goals before calling time on a superlative career.
With 106 caps, there are only seven players who have turned out more times for England than Frank Lampard. His 29 goals for his country make him the only England midfielder besides the mercurial Bobby Charlton to be included in the top ten all-time leading goalscorers too.
But these achievements might put a deceptive gloss on what was an altogether disappointing international career for Lampard. He and his teammates never delivered on the promise of international glory – and given the incredible amount of talent in the Three Lions squad in the 2000s and early 2010s, they really ought to have.
Lampard’s career lasted 15 years from 1999 to 2014. He missed out on the squads for the European Championships in 2000 and the World Cup in 2002 but made the grade for 2004 where England made the quarter-finals. Altogether, it was one of England and Lampard’s better performances on the big stage; it would be mostly downhill from there.
England were dumped out of the 2006 World Cup by Portugal in the last-eight despite being favourites to win the competition outright. In 2008, they didn’t even qualify for the Euros.
2010 in South Africa was arguably the nadir. England scraped through the group stage by the skin of their teeth only to be humbled by bitter rivals Germany in the round-of-16 in a game remembered mainly for Lampard’s ghost goal that was not awarded despite clearly crossing the line.
2012 was a slight improvement as England went out of the European Championships on penalties at the quarter-final stage. But, in 2014, normal service resumed as, under the management of Roy Hodgson, Lampard and England finished bottom of their group at the World Cup. Their final game in that tournament would prove to be Lampard’s last as an international.
Where is Frank Lampard Now?
Frank Lampard didn’t stay out of the game long before joining Championship promotion hopefuls Derby County at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. He led the Rams to a top-six finish but was unable to steer them through the playoffs; they lost in the final to Aston Villa.
Despite this, Chelsea appointed Lampard as the successor to the outgoing Maurizio Sarri at the dawn of the next campaign. Despite having to deal with a transfer ban at the beginning of his tenure, the club legend has performed admirably – guiding Chelsea to 4th place in the Premier League before the postponement of the season.