Frank Lampard: A true legend or a so-called traitor?
Fantastic Frank at Clinical Chelsea
648 appearances. 211 goals. 150 + assists.
Stuff of Legend. Isn't it?
To be, popularly, honest: Not Quite.
These stats belong to a certain footballer who goes by the name of Frank Lampard Jr. When he moved from rival London club West Ham United for £11 million, one of the highest of those times in British football history; perhaps the most Chelsea had ever shelled out for a player, till that time, no one knew what remarkable feats awaited Frank Lampard at the club.
(Record amount spent on a player by Chelsea Football Club is: £50 million for the services of Fernando Torres from Liverpool in January 2011.)
Those box-to-box runs, the clinical left/right-footed finishes along with those amazingly towering headers. Add with those, the freaking free-kicks, and precise penalties, Frank Lampard became a household name in London and a world-class name across the world.
The 164 consecutive Premier League appearances he notched up (a record for any outfield player) speak of consistency but mask his more exceptional qualities. The no. 8 of Chelsea would play vital roles in all of Chelsea’s remarkable successes between 2005 and 2013, from the winning goals at Bolton in 2005 that won them the First division League of English Tier for the first time in 50 years, through the 2010 Double, to his captaincy of the side that lifted successive European Cups in 2012 and 2013 (UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa league respectively.)
In May 2013, he eclipsed Sir Bobby Tambling’s long-standing goal scoring record of 202 for the club and left having established a new high of 211. Winners’ medals for three Premier League wins, four FA Cups, two League Cups, as well as those Europa League and Champions League triumphs, were rewards for hard work as well as physical, mental and superhuman strength that gave him the title of Super-Frankie, amongst the Chelsea Loyalists. He was named football writers’ Footballer of the Year, runner-up in the 2005 European and World Player of the Year polls, and was routinely mentioned by his peers as one of the top players in the game.
Thoughtful, intelligent and determined, Lampard’s almost telepathic connection with the Blues’ faithful was forged when, in the wake of his mother’s shock death in 2008, he dispatched a vital Champions League penalty against Liverpool then looked, moist-eyed, to the heavens; perhaps his most important goal in Chelsea career. Under Munich skies in the same competition four years later, he was raising the trophy that signified the club’s greatest ever night.
After 13 years at the Bridge, Frank departed in June 2014 as one of the finest players in Chelsea Football Club’s history. He moved on to New York City FC vowing never to play against Chelsea for a rival club.
Lured Lampard at Magnanimous Manchester
But call it fate or nature, Lampard signed a contract with New York City’s ‘parent club’.
At the Eastlands in Manchester, Frank Lamprd Jr signed yet another professional contract with an English team, the Citizens or more famously the newly-crowned Champions of England: Manchester City FC.
The transfer was obvious. Frank wanted to play regular football at a top club and Manchester City FC were ready to give him that opportunity.
However, this move was not welcomed by a number of Chelsea loyalists. Even Jose Mourinho, the current Chelsea manager, who had kept contact with Lampard while the former was away at Inter Milan or Real Madrid, was unhappy when asked about Lampard’s decision to join Manchester City and commented that he wasn’t at liberty to comment about someone else’s players.
The move was welcomed by the Manchester City fans as they knew they had signed, perhaps, the most gifted English player of their generation; barring none. 23 appearances and 7 vital goals along with a handful of assists later, the move seemed perfect for Manchester City.
Chelsea is where the heart lies
The most important matches of his short Manchester City career, however, were not against the big teams from Manchester or the European Giants in Roma or Munich or Barcelona, but rather the games against Chelsea.
On the 21st September, Chelsea led Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium by 1-0 when Manuel Pellegrini brought on Frank Lampard to face his former team for the first time after leaving in the Summer of 2014. And a fairy tale twist, to what fans of Chelsea could have called treachery, Frank Lampard forced his way into the penalty area like the 13 years he did at Chelsea and with a volley from inside the box, put it beyond the reach of the Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. 1-1 it ended.
There were no celebrations. No gestures towards the sky from Lampard after scoring the goal, but a hand of apology to the antagonized Chelsea supporters. Truly a Champion at heart would have the courage and will to do what Frank Lampard has done in his career. When he came back to Bridge and sat on the away bench, nothing seemed more surreal and delusional at the same time. Though he only got a few minutes as a substitute in that match which ended in a 1-1 draw, again, this time Lampard was far away from all that went around in the game. When it ended, he was the last to leave the pitch and he thanked each and every supporter, Chelsea or Manchester City’s, from the bottom of his heart.
Sadly when played and scored for Chelsea, West Ham United supporters used to call him a traitor and used to ‘boo’ him. While he plays for Manchester City, some of the Chelsea ‘fans’ boo him and call him a ‘traitor’.
Legendary Lampard or Fantabulous Frankie: He is only misjudged when called a traitor
One might say Frank went back on his commitment of never playing against Chelsea for a rival club and hold him guilty, call him a traitor. But for what he did for Chelsea Football Club perhaps is the reason why Chelsea Football Club is regarded one of the fiercest teams in club football across the globe since the past 10 years.
When he left Chelsea to play for Manchester City FC, he has performed as a professional to the best of his abilities and opportunities. We can see that in his movement, passing skill and determination whenever he is seen on the ground. Hence, It is irrational and biased for anyone calling him, a traitor, to call a long-standing servant of the game a traitor.
He remains a hero that has always been loyal and his place in the hearts of the true Chelsea fans remains the same: at the very highest, as the very highest; the best Chelsea Football Club has had the honor of seeing.