Is this Chelsea star the last of a dying breed?

England midfielder Frank Lampard

International football still remains as divisive as the domestic game, but whatever your partisan interests are, Tuesday night should be an occasion for universal footballing recognition. While it represents a pivotal stage in England’s quest for qualification, it is just as notable for the imminent award of Frank Lampard’s 100th international cap. But how can we assess the remarkable achievement of our midfield maestro?

The lead is perhaps a little harsh, because for me Lampard represents so much more than a hardworking midfielder, to achieve the honours he has with Chelsea and England you have to possess a certain degree of class as well. I suppose the point is that aside from that, Lampard is maybe not the most talented ever to don an England shirt, but his professionalism and drive to maximise his potential has seen him develop into an unquestionable asset. Many will speculate as to the player Rooney could have become had he had half the application of a Lampard.

Lampard’s work ethic was something instilled in him from a young age, with his father a key part of his off field setup. Keen to see his son be the best he can be, Frank Snr was often a hard taskmaster. Frank made the following comments in a recent interview with the Telegraph:

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“He always made me very aware of my weaknesses as a youngster – not in a bad way. He’d praise the good things but he was on about my pace, trying to get in the box and score goals and having the energy to do that. He let me know that it was extra runs, extra hours practising shooting, and finishing. That became ingrained in me.”

“He probably bullied me into it a bit in younger years. I didn’t always like it but I can’t thank him enough for it now” 

It is perhaps unsurprising that Lampard was influenced at such a young age, heralding from a footballing family that contained not only his father but the guidance of Harry Redknapp on the other side. Borne from an era of footballing graft as a means to success, Lampard was schooled with this philosophy and it is clearly something that has stayed with him ever since.

Ever since his debut against Belgium at the Stadium of Light, Lampard has been a consistent feature of England sides and a tally of 29 goals from the centre of the park is no mean feat either. While Lampard’s pace has been something to work hard on, his footballing intelligence and commitment have never been questioned. Maybe a breed of footballer soon to be confined to history in England, Lampard represents the bullish mentality central to our island’s psyche.

Whether you’re a Fulham or Spurs fan, Lampard is very rarely subjected to the kind of terrace abuse that say a John Terry may well encounter and for me this speaks volumes of the man. His almost universal respect within the game is a testament to someone who has gone about things in what most would perceive as the right way. Modest, genuine and hard working; few would begrudge Lampard his 100th cap on Tuesday night.

“I’d like to think people will remember me as a player who gave everything and was very proud to play for his country. I’m proud to get near 100 caps because when I began playing I wouldn’t have believed I’d get past 20.’’

So clearly hard work doesn’t guarantee success, but in the case of Lampard it has allowed him to achieve something beyond what many would perceive as the realms of possibility.

In an era of disconnected and inadequate footballing icons, Lampard represents the kind of person that youngsters should be aspiring to. Maybe the era of the model professional is dead, and that is maybe why Tuesday night is so special.

No doubt England will do their best to mark the occasion with a decidedly cagey and nervy display, but do we expect any less from our national side these days?

Is Frank Lampard deserving of these plaudits?

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Article title: Is this Chelsea star the last of a dying breed?

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