Fans of other clubs can chew over debates that span decades, arguing about which player was better or what season produced the best team, but things are a little different for Chelsea supporters.
There is no debating that their teams of the past 15 years or so are the best ones in their history. There is no doubt that all their best players come from this period too.
This is a very modern club with a very contemporary list of all-time greats but one player stands head and shoulders above them all.
Frank Lampard is Chelsea’s greatest-ever player and probably the best English player of all time too.
Lampard’s Chelsea broke new ground; effectively building a new club on the site of an old one.
The modern Chelsea that the world knows is not the Chelsea of Bobby Tambling, Peter Osgood and Ron Harris; it’s the Chelsea of here and now. And Lampard is king. Jose Mourinho called him the “best player in the world”, John Terry says he’s the best player in Chelsea’s history. Who are we to disagree?
Lampard played for so long and so consistently that he’s bound to be up there in the reckoning for most of the “all-time” Premier League achievements. To commend him only for those big numbers – of goals, of assists, of appearances – would miss the point. If you play for 20 years, you’re bound to get some kind of record but there was much, much more to Lampard than simply showing up.
He earned every minute he played for Chelsea – whether as a second forward, attacking midfielder or sitting deep – and showed in his one season at Manchester City that he still had a few more games left in him by the time he left.
But don’t commend Lampard simply for playing 609 Premier League matches, scoring 177 goals and making 102 assists. It is the context of his longevity that requires more analysis.
This was a player Chelsea signed from West Ham for £11m in 2001. Many thought him overpriced. By the time Roman Abramovich bought the club with the proceeds of Russia’s mineral wealth in 2003 it looked as though he would be one of the players making way for the revolution.
But no matter who Chelsea signed – Juan Sebastian Veron, Michael Ballack, Deco, Juan Mata, Oscar – he outperformed every single one of them.
Were there better footballers at Chelsea during his time there? Yes. Players with better imagination, technique, control? Probably. Were there players there who could do what Lampard did every week for the best part of 15 years? Absolutely not.
This was not a mid-table team either. This was a team fighting consistently for the top prizes where forensic investigation of each and every minute of each and every match is par for the course. Lampard passed every mark set for him and asked for more.
In every one of Chelsea’s greatest triumphs, he is front and centre; the back-to-back title wins under Mourinho in 2005 and 2006 and all those cups.
He scored more than 10 goals in 10 consecutive Premier League seasons. There were 211 goals in all for Chelsea.
There were three domestic league titles and four FA Cups. At one stage he made 164 consecutive starts.
Only Ronaldinho in 2005 kept him from the Ballon d’Or.
Then there was 2012 and the Champions League victory which etched the squad’s names in history forever. Lampard was captain. He stroked home one of the penalties after supplying the pass to Ramires in the semi-final to knock out Barcelona. Their greatest season, their greatest moment, their greatest player.
Every time you looked up and saw Chelsea winning, Lampard was there, hands pointed to the heavens, celebrating another goal.