After 21 years in Professional Football, Frank Lampard has today announced his retirement aged 38. The former; Chelsea, Manchester City, New York City and West Ham United midfielder also garnered 106 caps for England, scoring 29 goals in the process.
At club level Frank Lampard made over 900 appearances, scoring 273 goals, a great return from centre midfield. Averaging a goal almost every three games doesn’t sound brilliant, but it is plenty from his position, especially when you consider the strikers he’s had to share the goals with along the way.
Lampard of course will mostly be remembered for his time at Chelsea, where domestically he won; 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups and 2 Community Shields. Chelsea and Lampard also won their first Champions League trophy in 2011/12 as well as the Europa League the following year.
It speaks volumes that Manchester City, who were challenging for the title worked out a way to sign 34-year old, Lampard in the 2014/15 season, despite him reportedly agreeing to sign for New York City FC. With the two clubs in partnership it was initially revealed that he would sign a six-month loan deal to stay in Manchester before the MLS season started. It ended with Lampard spending the whole season with Manchester City where he made 38 appearances in total, scoring 6 goals.
New York fans grew understandably impatient and wanted to see the iconic midfielder they were promised. On 10th January 2015, Lampard signed a pre-contract to play in the Big Apple, which would start on 1st July. Injury delayed his debut until 1st August, where he came on as a second-half substitute. He struggled to make an impact alongside Andrea Pirlo and David Villa, with the side failing to make the play-offs. This upset everyone connected with the club, and Lampard suffered some abuse from the supporters for his lacklustre play.
Lampard responded in his final season though, scoring 12 goals in 19 games in 2016. It was announced in November that he would leave the club at the end of his contract and so the rumour mill began.
A return to Chelsea, most likely on the backroom staff was touted the most, but the chance to play was also on the table, with Championship promotion contenders, Brighton & Hove Albion amongst others reportedly very interested.
Lampard obviously decided it was best to bow out rather than play in the second-tier of English football and nobody can blame him. The Championship is a great league, but it is physically demanding and Lampard may have struggled to make the impact he would like to and is used to.
At club-level, Lampard can surely have no regrets. He won everything he could possibly have dreamed of, both domestically and across Europe but the International stage may always haunt him.
He’s not alone in that. The England National side have never been able to match the success of the 1966 World Cup, no matter how strong the squad was. During Lampard’s spell with England, it could be argued that Lampard alongside Steven Gerrard was one of, if not the best central midfield pairing in the world, on paper at least.
Both players enjoyed individual success, but never seemed to be able to play at their best as a pairing, mainly because of their matching styles. Both wanted to be on the ball, both wanted to get in the box and both wanted to score the goals England needed. As such it appeared at times the balance wasn’t right with both on the field at the same time. You couldn’t leave either out though, not the way they played for their respective clubs.
Individually, 106 caps and 29 goals cannot be frowned upon and amongst those 29 goals were some important ones.
During Euro 2004 he scored three goals in four matches including the 112th minute equaliser against Portugal in the quarter-finals which took the game to penalties. As we well know we went on to lose the shoot-out.
Fast forward to the 2006 World Cup qualifiers and Lampard scored 5 goals, leaving him as England’s top scorer during the qualification campaign. The tournament came around and Lampard was awarded Man of the Match in the first game. He did however fail to score a goal, despite playing every minute of England’s tournament. Lampard along with Jamie Carragher and Gerrard missed penalties to crash out against Portugal once again.
Lampard was part of the England squad that failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championships under Steve McLaren.
The 2010 World Cup was as disappointing for both England and Lampard. In the last-16 matchup with Germany, Lampard thought he had scored to level the game at 2-2 but it turned out to be the goal that never was. As we all saw in the replays Lampard had scored a legitimate goal, but the referee and linesman were unsure it crossed the line. England went on to lose the game 4-1. Lampard by this stage had broken a record that had been in place since 1966, which was recording the most shots in a World Cup without a goal (37).
The one positive that came from this was the introduction of goal-line technology.
Unfortunately for Lampard he was forced to miss the European Championships two years later due to injury.
In the lead up to the 2014 World Cup, Lampard scored his 24th, 25th and 26th goals equalling Bryan Robson’s record. By March 2013, he had scored 28 England goals courtesy of a goal in an 8-0 win over San Marino. This saw him overtake David Platt as England’s highest scoring midfielder.
That is where Lampard’s highlights as an England International ended. Lampard was names as vice-captain at the 2014 World Cup, where England finished bottom of their group with one point. Lampard was made captain for that draw with Costa Rica.
In August 2014, Lampard announced his retirement from International football.
Despite the disappointments endured with England he can hold his head high, knowing he represented his country over 100 times, whilst also making over 900 appearances during his 21-year club career.
Thanks for the memories Frank and congratulations on a wonderful career.