How West Ham's tough love made Lampard a Chelsea legend

Frank Lampard Chelsea West Ham GFX
Despite the Blues boss coming through the ranks at the Irons, there is little love for him among fans of his former club

Frank Lampard has a longstanding connection with West Ham, but little in the way of warmth has been demonstrated between the parties over the years.

Even during his time at Upton Park as a player, the midfielder felt mistreated. Upon his return there following an £11 million move to Chelsea, things only got worse.

The now-Chelsea coach was driven by an obsession to score against the Hammers which, he recently admitted, did not always help him perform well against his former club.

However, the rivalry has since cooled on Lampard's side, and he has increasingly looked to deliver a positive message towards the east London club which groomed him. 

Alongside his father Frank Lampard Sr., himself a legendary player for the Hammers, Lampard would attend the Boleyn Ground as a boy.

His two heroes were goalscorers Frank McAvennie and Tony Cottee, who helped earn West Ham their best ever-league finish of third in 1986. 

Lampard and fellow Blues great John Terry on one occasion attended a West Ham match together, bumping into McAvennie, and the fan boy lived on in both Chelsea legends who spent their youth at the Iron's Chadwell Heath training ground.

"I saw John Terry and Frank Lampard at one of the games near the lift," McAvennie tells Goal. "I was with my girlfriend and it was a few years ago. They were going ‘oh Macca, how are you doing?’ and ‘you were our hero when we were growing up.’

I was like 'you gave me a compliment and kicked me in the nuts at the same time.’ It was all good."

Lampard Sr. coached at the Academy of Football, producing a golden generation of players which included Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Jermain Defoe and Joe Cole. In his autobiography, Totally Frank, Lampard admits his father used to tell him to emulate Cottee.

"I was actually Frank Lampard Sr.’s boot boy and apprentice," Cottee says. "So I used to wear his boots in to get them ready for the first week of the season. In those days, you had to do that because you got blisters from the hard leather.

"He was one of my heroes from the ’75 and ’80 cup winning teams. My first full season as a player in the first team was his last.

"When I came back to the club, Frank Sr. was a coach and Frank Jr. was about to break through to the first team. Frank Sr. would always help you if you wanted it. He was always encouraging people to do extra training.

"As a player, he used to train and get the apprentices to stay back. He always trained harder than anyone else.

"Young Frank can thank me for his debut, because I got substituted and he came on. You could see that same work ethic and it all came from his dad grinding it into him.

Frank Lampard quote GFX

"Work harder, work harder, practice, practice, practice. You could see with Frank that he knew he had to work hard to get where he wanted to. That was with Rio Ferdinand coming through, who was a supremely naturally gifted footballer.

"It was a lot easier for Rio. But for Frank, he had to work really hard. He had his dad and his uncle at the club so there was this thing of you are only playing because of your family."

McAvennie and Cottee were part of a very good West Ham side in the mid-80s, a team which, along with Everton, challenged Liverpool's all-conquering dominance at the top of the First Division. The front two scored 46 goals between them in the 1985-86 season, propelling the club forward as Lampard watched on as an eight and nine-year-old boy. 

"We came so close to winning with West Ham in ’86," McAvennie said. "Liverpool won the league but it wasn’t Liverpool that beat us. We didn’t play for such a long time and then we had to play three games a week for five weeks.

"We played on Saturday, then Monday, then Wednesday and it was really tough. It was because of the weather. They wouldn’t do it now but we had four replays against Ipswich in the cup and two against Manchester United.

"We just blew up and ran out of legs. We only used 16 players that year or around about that."

Cottee recalls a similar tale: "It was the club’s highest-ever league position. What a season for everyone. I liken it to the Leicester season of four years ago. We played the same 11 like they did. They didn’t have too many injuries or suspensions, nor did we.

"They weren’t affected by Europe and we weren’t. We used 13-14 players and the stats with Leicester were similar. The big clubs fell to one side. We were unlucky to be against the great Everton and Liverpool teams of the 80s."

Lampard was once called out by a fan at the West Ham Supporters AGM in front of his uncle Harry Redknapp, the manager who gave him his first-team debut. There were accusations of nepotism, but Lampard went onto prove people wrong with a glorious playing career.

Cottee, a West Ham legend in his own right, has called upon Hammers fans to ease up on their dislike of Lampard.

"I don’t know why Frank had a hard time from some fans but remember his dad would quite rightly make the top 10 players ever at the club," he concluded. "Maybe it was just the comparison to his dad being so good.

"It is always difficult for a son of a dad who is really famous. He achieved so much at West Ham then Chelsea. I admire him for taking on that difficult time and it is very unusual for someone to surpass their dad’s career when they were that good. It shows you his steel and personality.

"Everyone associates Frank with Chelsea and quite rightly so. Historically, though, he was from a West Ham family."