Lampard proved critics wrong as a player – now he can do the same as a manager

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The Chelsea legend has been given a great opportunity in the Championship, and he hopes to one day return to manage the Blues

Frank Lampard is used being told he isn't good enough or that he doesn't belong. His first foray into football management with Derby County will be the same.

In 1996 an angry West Ham supporter at the fans' forum confronted his club's manager Harry Redknapp and an 18-year-old Lampard to tell the teenager he wasn't good enough.

After Lampard proved himself with the Hammers, many Chelsea fans regarded him as a waste of money after the Blues signed him for £11 million in 2001.

However, the criticism never stuck and the son of West Ham's legendary Frank Lampard Snr went on to prove everyone wrong.

Now, Lampard will have the chance to do it again after being named Derby County manager on Thursday, his first coaching position.

At the beginning of his Chelsea days, the naysayers may have been correct: Lampard probably wasn't good enough. In his first season he wasn't as prolific as he would eventually become, scoring seven goals in 53 games.

Roman Abramovich then bought the club and replaced Claudio Ranieri with Jose Mourinho in a revolution that would worry any unproven footballer. But the newly appointed 'Special One' quickly saw something in Lampard, who would go on to become the club's all-time top goalscorer from his role in midfield.

Lampard is one of Chelsea's greatest ever players, but it was work rate and discipline that took him to a level where he would finish second in the Ballon d'Or in 2005, behind just Ronaldinho.

He would continue proving people wrong at the end of his playing days. Few thought he would make such an impact at Manchester City, where he became a key member of a Premier League runner-up side in 2014-15.

Even in MLS at New York City FC, he was criticised for his injury issues as he struggled to stay healthy during a two-season stint. 

But Lampard still managed to score an impressive 16 goals in 31 total games with the club before retiring at age 38.

After his playing career, Lampard has shown a relentless hunger for football education while working both with coaches and in the media.

He has used his TV work with the BBC, BT Sport and Sky Sports to display his immense tactical knowledge. He has simultaneously been working at Chelsea, most notably with their Under-18 manager Jody Morris.

Morris is hugely respected in Chelsea's academy and his unprecedented quadruple win this season with his age group has been noted by many in the football community. He is expected to be appointed as Lampard's assistant at Derby.

Meanwhile, Lampard has his Uefa A Licence and will gain his Pro Licence while in the job at Derby. That immense work ethic combined with Lampard's opportunism has seen him beat more experienced men to a job at a strong Championship club, while Ipswich Town were also thought to be interested in him.

Frank Lampard

The three-time Chelsea Player of the Year never doubted his ability as a manager and admits that he would one day love to manage the Blues.

“I have thought about coaching and I have been working at Chelsea with the academy all year, around my media stuff," Lampard told Goal. “Chelsea, of course, is like a dream job that will be there one day. But that is not always the route that it takes, so it might take me to go somewhere else before I can ever do that.

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"We will see, but I certainly have ambitions to do it. How could I not take it if Chelsea offered me the job? Chelsea are my club and I feel like I have a lot to offer. But that’s obviously for other people to decide, for important people, if and when I am ready to do that."

Chelsea themselves will soon be replacing Antonio Conte, with Maurizio Sarri the man set to step in for the 2016-17 Premier League winner.

But if Lampard can navigate the turbulent waters of football management at Derby, then he may one day live a dream that is not just his, but that of almost every Chelsea fan.

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