Frank Lampard won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups with Chelsea, but it’s the Champions League which provided him with both the biggest highlight and regret of his career.
Lampard announced his retirement as a player on February 2 earlier this year and has now had nine months to look back on a glittering career which also saw him win 106 caps for England, as well as a host of individual awards.
The 39-year-old did not hesitate, though, when we asked for the best moment of his career.
“It has to be the Champions League in 2012,” he says. “It was the greatest achievement in my career and the fact that it took so long to win it made it all the more special.
“We had come close so often, probably should have won it before, so when we did it, the emotion was incredible. I remember the stuff on the pitch after rather than the match itself. A great night. I still get a tingle when I think about it now.”
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Chelsea went on to win the Europa League the following season, completing the full set of club trophies available to Lampard, but that is certainly not to say he does not have regrets about his career.
“We should have won more,” he says. “I won the Premier League three times, but the teams I was in were good enough to win at least five titles and we could have had at least one more Champions League as well.
“I like to see myself as a winner and you often look back and regret the trophies you lost as much as celebrate the ones you won. I would have been gutted to get to the end of the career without the Champions League.”
“He was great and got the best out of me,” Lampard says. “Jose has an aura about him and he makes players believe they are the best players in the world. When he tells you that, you believe him.
“He’s a great man manager when you are in his team. I was a little inside myself when he came to the club, but he convinced me I was better than that.”
Mourinho was one of nine different permanent or interim managers Lampard worked under in 13 years at Stamford Bridge, but the changes hardly affected the Blues’ ability to win trophies during that time.
Though Lampard rates the latest manager, Antonio Conte, he does not expect Roman Abramovich to change his approach any time soon, with Chelsea already looking unlikely to defend their Premier League crown in what was always going to be a more difficult second season for the Italian.
“He is a very driven manager,” Lampard says, “but the second season for any manager is hard after enjoying so much success.
“The expectations are high, he did so well last season, but Champions League football brings a whole new dimension to Chelsea’s season.
“I saw Jamie Carragher saying (in August) Conte would not be Chelsea manager a year from now, but you can probably say that about just about every manager in the Premier League and it would be a decent bet.
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“Only one team will win the title this season and everyone else might be described as a failure in some quarters. There is such a short shelf life in management these days.
“Some people read a lot into the fact that Conte didn’t extend the contract and just signed an improved deal, but he signed it.
“As ever at Chelsea, they will probably look at the situation at the end of the season. Stability is viewed as important at a lot of club, but Chelsea have changed their manager on a regular basis down the years and have still been successful.”
Lampard revealed he had begun taking his coaching qualifications when he first announced his retirement, and despite since taking up a job as a pundit with BT Sport, he has not given up his ambitions to become a manager.
“Not at all,” he says. “I will continue to do my coaching badges and that is something I might look at in the future.
“I just felt I needed time away from the game when I retired and that is why I have taken on the TV role. Coaching is something I am interested in, but that will be parked for a while.
“My aim is to be a pundit that offers a little more than just observations on what happened in the game. You look at the way TV has gone now and you need to give insight that people might not be aware of. Coming from a perspective of someone who has played in the Premier League for a long time, hopefully I can do that.
“The people at BT Sport are very professional and they have been a big help to me so far, and working with guys like Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand, who I know so well, is a help to me as well. I might take a while to get into it, but I have enjoyed the bits I’ve done so far.”
By Kevin Palmer
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