For someone who has won almost everything there is to win domestically, and been nominated for the Ballon d’Or (coming only second to Ronaldinho), who all would agree was a different class of player at the time, Frank Lampard could be more than justified to act like a ‘big-time Charlie’, or at the very least demand the adulation he deserves from football fans.
Yet here is someone who divides fans more than most players, with the less intelligent football fans amongst us repeating over and over again that Lampard is an over-rated, over-paid and overweight player, who did not deserve the recognition he has achieved over a long career, does not deserve a place in the national team or the Chelsea midfield and the goals he is renowned for scoring from midfield were merely deflections, lucky shots or penalties. If this is the case, then twenty plus deflections a season must mean Lampard is one of the luckiest players ever to exist on a footballing field.
Lampard broke the record for the highest number of consecutive appearances for an outfield player, and has been ever-present in the Chelsea midfield over the last seven seasons – a midfield that under Mourinho was undoubtedly one of the best in the world. When Jose Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge, he told Lampard that whilst he was a great player, under his management, he was going to become world class, the complete midfielder. Jose was right, and Lampard has gone on to become a lynchpin in the Chelsea line up, and a major reason for their success.
Whilst Chelsea fans recognise this, and give Lampard the love and recognition that he deserves, fans of the national team have never quite taken to Lampard, and the player has been made a scapegoat for the failings of the ‘golden generation’ on more than one occasion.
Even the most ardent of Lampard’s supporters would admit he has never quite delivered his best form for the national team, and there has been a difference from the Lampard seen at Stamford Bridge to the Lampard on display at Wembley. However, this has been the case for many English players, none more so than Liverpool talisman Steven Gerrard, who despite struggling in an England shirt has never been berated and criticised by fans to the same level as Lampard.
There are many who feel that Lampard and Gerrard are too similar to play together and this is the reason why both fail when starting in the same eleven, and if a choice was to be made Gerrard should be the clear victor. Yet when Gerrard has started without Lampard, he has still not shone to the degree expected. The problems England had, and still face are far more complex than managers playing Lampard and Gerrard together, and the attitude, mentality and lack of spirit being huge issues within the national team.
The young crop of players emerging now more than warrant their place in the team, with older hands such as Scott Parker and Gareth Barry also in excellent form and making a solid claim to the starting line-up, it is more difficult than ever for Lampard to break into the national team. After being dropped against Bulgaria – something that came as a shock to the player who had been training as part of what was widely assumed to be the first eleven all week, there were whispers Lampard’s international career looked over.
Lampard returned to the starting line-up against Wales a week later, and put in a solid performance, yet did not last the 90 minutes and again came in for criticism from certain sections of the fan base.
Lampard has never been one to give up, spurred on in his club career by the abuse at West Ham and then England fans Frank has let his career blossom, and played an unimaginable amount of consecutive games, even taking a penalty in the Champion’s League Semi Final against Liverpool, just days after his beloved mother had passed away. Players of such character and heart do not give up.
There is much to come from Frank Lampard , and he is not the type of player to turn his back on anything. In reality he will relish the challenge. Whilst a place in the starting line up during Euro 2012, when he is a year older and younger players like Jack Wilshire and Tom Cleverley are a year more experienced, may be unlikely, a place in the squad is not. Lampard has invaluable experience and can rise to the plate when the game is at its toughest. As team mate and friend John Terry stated, ‘write Lampard off at your peril.’
Article courtesy of Rebecca Knight on This is Futbol
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