INTERVIEW: Chelsea legend Frank Lampard

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In a New York minute: Frank Lampard is enjoying life at NYCFC.

Frank Lampard’s status at Chelsea is established for ever. His list of honours glitters: three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, a Champions League and a Europa League; a club record 211 goals in 648 appearances.

He is recognised as one of, if not the greatest Chelsea player ever, an icon whose impact was far reaching.

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So the question was, how would he ever follow that up? After leaving Stamford Bridge last year, he enjoyed a successful stint at Manchester City before embarking on an American adventure with New York City FC.

With the MLS season at a close, Lampard was speaking as part of the Dubai International Sports Conference yesterday and he touched on Chelsea’s current troubles, Jose Mourinho and whether or not his future is blue.

You have been one of the best goal-scoring midfielders to grace the Premier League, how is this so?

I was very fortunate to have a father who played professional football so when I was younger and I played in midfield he used to tell me I had to have a go at goal.

He gave me the impression of what I needed to do and he was the one who told me I needed to work hard in order to make it to the top.

Throughout my career I tried to work on midfield play and scoring goals. On top of that I was very fortunate to play for such a long time in a great Chelsea team that made it easy for me. Great players like Didier Drogba, Gianfranco Zola, Eden Hazard, I could go on and on. They created chances for me many times so I have to be thankful to them too. 

If you wanted, could you have been a successful striker given your goals ratio?

No, I think I’m too slow to play there. I enjoyed playing from behind and arriving late, I think if I started up front then I wouldn’t be quick enough.

You enjoyed considerable success during your time with Jose Mourinho, in your view were Chelsea right to sack him?

I think Guus Hiddink will be a fantastic manager in the interim but I do think they should have waited until the end of the season.

At the time I thought that was the right decision and I do now because if they could have recovered they would have had a great manager and a successful future ahead.  

Chelsea are used to change, though, and managers change but the club will always remain as one of the biggest in the world. I wouldn’t say that (Roman) Abramovich was right or wrong to sack him. I think for sure Chelsea are one of the best clubs in the world, and with that status they can’t be 16th in the Premier League in December, so there’s clearly a problem.

Do you think there was a conspiracy from the players against Mourinho?

No. I think if there is that type thing going on then you’ve got the wrong type of players but I know the Chelsea players very well and I know the club. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s more the lack of performance, for whatever reason and there can be many, that the problem can be when you have a lot of press and media looking for a conspiracy.

Could you see yourself back at Chelsea maybe as a coach or a manger when you’re done?

I don’t know about being a manager or coach because that’s the future.

Chelsea is my club and I had 13 years of my career there and as a player you have to understand when your time has come to an end and I did. Everyone understands it’s my club, but there’s no return for me as a player. The club is close to my heart and I would like to be involved in the future but I can’t think too far ahead.

You will certainly see my face at Chelsea games but how involved I am is not up to me it’s up to the owner and the board of directors.

With Chelsea there are changes every year so I don’t want to say now I could be the manager or coach in the future but personally I would like to be involved in some capacity. From my era at Chelsea, there are four of us, Didier Drogba, John Terry, Petr Cech and myself who really felt the club so I think it would be good for the club to keep us involved in some way.

Have you chosen to move to the MLS with New York City FC because the pressure is less intense than that of your former clubs?

The first pressure comes from yourself as a player, the pressure to be the best you can be.

I’m a determined and ambitious player so even though the environment is different it’s a different responsibility and a different pressure in America to help the game grow. We’re travelling up and down the country to show that.

What are the problems with the Chelsea at the moment?

We only have one hour! It’s difficult from an outside perspective but ultimately the players aren’t performing. It’s the same squad that won the Premier League quite comfortably last year so when six, seven or eight of the first team players aren’t performing you’re not 
going to be battling at the top.

When you’re in these troubling situations everyone has to take responsibility, players, management and staff because the club is not just about individuals. That’s the big change needed, everyone needs to take a look at themselves.

What do you aspire to achieve with NYCFC and what’s it like having someone like Andrea Pirlo play alongside you?

We have a good relationship and when he signed I was very excited because I’d played against him and had so much respect for him.

He’s an icon and there aren’t many players who can play at the top level for as long as he has. In every team he plays in he is one of the main reasons for success.

I arrived halfway through the season so that can be difficult to bring as much as I wanted.

I think maybe we’ll see a new team with a big spirit because we’ll have had a pre-season behind us.

What are your opinions on UAE football from the time you’ve spent here?

There is a lot of passion in this country and you can see the eagerness to grow the game here.

Of course, there are going to be mistakes because things take a long time to grow. Seven years is not nearly long enough but the main thing is that the passion is there and there must be a hard-work ethic from the players.

What are you best and worst moments during your career?

My best experience was of course winning the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012. By a long way it’s the greatest night for me and Chelsea. The worst experience was losing to Germany in 2010, losing 4-1 and having my goal disallowed.

Going home early from a World Cup, twice, are two of the worst things to have gone through.

When do you think England could win the World Cup?

Given the level of modern-day football it’s very difficult to predict that.

There are so many fantastic countries and I think if we’re honest we’ve stood still while other countries have progressed.

I think we know why that is now and the gap closing and I hope they can win it soon.

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