Goal.com's Top 50 English Players: Frank Lampard (39)

Goal.com are counting down England's greatest players of all time and at number 39 is a modern-day great: Chelsea vice-skipper Frank Lampard...
No.50 - John Terry
No.49 - Tony Currie
No.48 - Terry Butcher
No.47 - Gerry Hitchens
No.46 - Paul Ince
No.45 - George Camsell
No.44 - Wayne Rooney
No.43 - Jackie Milburn
No.42 - Roger Hunt
No.41 - Rio Ferdinand
No.40 - Wilf Mannion



Frank
LAMPARD

    
Born           20/06/1978, Romford, Essex.

England      69, 15 goals

Clubs          West Ham United
                    Swansea City (Loan)
                    Chelsea

Imagine a chap so consistently fit that he can brag a record (that has since been broken) of 164 consecutive appearances in England’s top flight. Keep him in your mind for a moment, as this cad is also one goal shy from recording a 20+ goal season for the fourth year on the spin. It could have been five had it not been for a return of 19 in the 2004-05 campaign. This Romford-born 30-year-old is as articulate as he is intelligent, he received a good education, and was a class-mate of British pin-up Jodie Marsh – I alone envy him for that.

Yet Frank Lampard remains a figure of fun for some, and has often been pin-pointed for catcalling while he dons the Three Lions national crest on his chest.

It is hard to fathom why. For - were it not for the exemplary big-game-changing Champions League winning talismanic captain of Liverpool, Steven Gerrard - then Lampard would be getting talked about as the midfielder of his, and many others', generation. He has been described by current Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink, who is fast approaching the conclusion of his temporary tenure at Stamford Bridge, as a “complete box-to-box midfielder”, which is a tag that could easily underscore the dictionary definition of the word: “truism”, when referring to Frank.

Not only is he a relentless tormentor of opposition rear-guards, a prolific net-bulging midfielder with an accurate strike, and a man who brags a wise footballing brain due to the manner in which he times his runs, but he is also an astute break-up merchant. His tackling skills are oft – and cruelly – under-rated, and under-estimated.

While Gerrard will claim glory for the way in which he will break a lung to charge 50 yards back down the field of play, perfectly executing a sliding challenge to dispossess his man, Lampard would require no time to retrieve his breath, as he would have been in the correct zone in the first place. His positional sense is inspired.

BEST USER COMMENT

"Frank Lampard has been the best midfielder in the world over the last 5 years. Ronaldinho/ronaldo/kaka have had some good seasons but Frank has been consistently grabbing 20 goals a season. Closest competitor probably steven gerrard but considering the domestic honours Lampard has won he takes the prize for me." - Jose Mc B | Eire
Frank plays better in a deeper role than the label of 'attacking midfielder' that has been falsely applied to him in the past. He can spot a pass, make play, or turn to a more direct avenue by going solo. He is one of the few players who can hit a defence-splitting trivela pass with pace, and accuracy.

It is not an unknown fact that all managers that turn up in west London to coach the kid turn away shaking their heads and exercising their eyebrows before going on public record as saying they have one of the best players in the world on their hands. Jose Mourinho spotted something in him during the genesis of his stay at Stamford Bridge.

In Totally Frank, Lampard’s autobiography released following England’s premature exit from the 2006 World Cup, the former Hammer explained how Mourinho walked in on him while he was showering once, to tell him eye-to-eye, that he was the best player in the world. A wet, naked, and slightly confused Frank shrugged off the compliment. To which Mourinho persisted: you are the best player in the world. Then it suddenly dawned on Lampard that this man was not going to leave him alone to dry off unless he acknowledged the comment.

The praise does not stop at the two aforementioned bosses who command great European Cup pedigree between them, but extends to one of the most famous names in international football – Brazil’s World Cup winning coach in 2002, Luiz Felipe Scolari, too. The axed manager cited Lampard’s chipped goal versus Hull City at the beginning of this season as the greatest he had ever seen.

Football is in his blood. He is is the son of Frank Lampard Snr, who was a full-back during his playing days and played for east London club West Ham United. His uncle is Harry Redknapp, now manager of north London side Tottenham Hotspur, and his cousin is Jamie Redknapp, who can now be found in a number of Wii adverts.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT

On CL Final Scoresheet

His family links proved beneficial for his schooling, and his break-through, as it was Lampard Snr who was assistant coach at West Ham, when Jnr was brought through to sign for the club as an apprentice. He was eventually to be bossed by Redknapp Snr, and played alongside other stars such as: Rio Ferdinand; Paulo di Canio; Joe Cole; and Frederic Kanoute. He was to be later sold to Chelsea, for £11 million, in a move that still riles the support at the Boleyn Ground whenever the Blues visit Lampard’s former home.

Since his transfer, Lampard has grown as a player with each passing season, and has won all the major domestic honours available, accruing the Premier League twice, the FA Cup once, and the League Cup twice. He has a Champions League final under his belt, as he helped contest an all-Premier League affair in Moscow last year against Manchester United, and if you were asked for advice on making a flutter, Frank Lampard’s name would have borne fruit should you have decided to lay ducats.

There has been criticism levelled against Lampard that he has failed to translate his club form onto the international arena. This may have been true in the 2006 World Cup, where he had the most shots out of all participating players, but failed to beat the guarding glovesman on each and every occasion, but England had many failures at that competition. Few players showed up, bar a maligned Owen Hargreaves, who quickly played his way into the fans’ favour. The competition prior – Euro 2004, though – was a success for Lampard. He scored thrice from four games, and was named in the team of the tournament.

HONOURS

West Ham United
Intertoto Cup (1999)

Chelsea
Premier League (2004-05, 2005-06)
FA Cup (2007)
Football League Cup (2005, 2007)
Community Shield (2005)

Individual
FIFPro World XI (2005)
PFA Premier League Team Of The Year (2004, 2005, 2006)

DID YOU KNOW … Frank Lampard appears on the official website of Mensa – an international organisation for people with extraordinary IQs – due to his exceptional performance on their intelligence test? He also has an A* in his Latin GCSE.

Alan Dawson, Goal.com


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