Frank Lampard – The Premier League’s Most Underrated Legend?
Frank Lampard called time on an illustrious 21-year career, and with it comes the end of an era.
With the likes of Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard – often compared to Lampard throughout his long career – already retired, the golden age of hope for English football has now disappeared once and for all. Whilst that England team might not have won anything, or even come remotely close for that matter, seeing those three in competition with each other battling week in, week out in the Premier League, was something of beauty.
There’s a lot of debate, but frankly the arguments are futile. All three deserve massive credit for their own achievements, without comparison to their counterparts. Lampard’s record in particular is quite honestly staggering, though, so it’s strange to think that he never quite got the recognition his efforts and achievements deserved. The stats are there for all to see.
He’s Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer with 211 in total for the Blues, whilst only three players sit above him and his 177 goals in the all-time Premier League standings. The fact that they’re all strikers sums up his achievements from the midfield. What’s more, he’s second, only to Ryan Giggs, in the all-time Premier League assists standings.
A runner-up in the Ballon D’or, something seldom seen for a home nation talent. Three Premier League titles. Both the Europa League and the Champions League, conquered. Four FA Cups. Two League Cups. He really has done it all. Consider that, then factor in his England record for the Senior team, returning 29 goals with over a century of international caps (106), and you’re left with what can only be described as a legend.
It could be argued that the move to Manchester City took the gloss off his Chelsea ‘club legend’ status somewhat, but fans were unperturbed for the most part given how well he served them for so long. It was during this stint that he made his landmark 600th Premier League appearance, demonstrating even further his remarkable longevity and class.
He never really fulfilled his potential in an England shirt in truth, but there’s a long list of players who the same could be said for. Perhaps the moments that stick at the front of our minds aren’t the ones that should for such a loyal servant, but it’s difficult to look past his penalty shoot-out miss in England’s World Cup quarter final against Portugal in 2006. Through no fault of his own, because it would have been an excellent goal, the other memory that sticks in my mind, as I’m sure it does in the minds of many other England fans, is the controversial goal-line decision against Germany. It’s okay to still be bitter about that. Who knows what might have happened if the correct decision had been given.
Early on in his career, Lampard was never seen as anything special. In fact, the idea that he could go on to become a club legend and such a presence in the Premier League would have sounded ridiculous. He was good, but not great. He didn’t possess that flair that others did. He was simple in his methods and technique, but it worked, and some. Combine that with his sheer determination, the will to want to win, and his admirable work ethic that made him into such a success, and you’re left with a near perfect player.
He served Chelsea admirably as a model professional – a true gentleman – throughout his career. He was ever present under whichever manager was at the helm, during what can only be described as a ‘tricky’ period at times. And, for a man who was often so selfless and team orientated, dedicating his life to the club, it’s nice to think back and reflect on the few moments he had in the spotlight. It was fitting that it was Lampard himself, who scored a brace as Chelsea secured their first Premier League title against Bolton in 2005. Leading Chelsea to that famous Champions League triumph on penalties over Bayern, with John Terry suspended, must also come under that bracket.
It might sound like an obvious thing to say, but when he sits back and looks back at all that he’s achieved, he must feel immensely proud. Who knows how soon we’ll see him on the touchline?