Is Lampard’s professionalism going unnoticed?
In sport, consistency is key to any success, and in Frank Lampard, Chelsea have a player whose reliability is as undeniable as it is astonishing.
Lampard reached 20 club goals for the fifth season running after scoring four, two from the penalty spot, against Aston Villa on Saturday.
The regularity of his performances, his temperament on the field and his refusal to disgrace himself in the public eye makes him a modern-day professional amongst the playboys of the Premier League.
Above all else his performances for both Chelsea and England have always been exemplary, only Wayne Rooney can boast to having the same success for both club and country.
Gone are the days that saw England fans target Lampard as the scapegoat for their inability to qualify for the European Championships in 2008. Yes, Steve McLaren was slated off the pitch, but Lampard was the main focus of abuse on it. Those same fans have now been eulogizing over Lampard’s performances for the national side, in all of which he has been playing largely out of position in a more reserved role alongside Gareth Barry.
During his time at West Ham Lampard failed to escape from his father’s shadow and a move to Stamford Bridge for a hefty £11 million helped loosen those shackles. It signalled an improvement in his career, regular England call-ups and an ever-growing collection of long range strikes, not to mention League titles under Jose Mourinho.
Along with a superb goal tally, for which he now lies third in the all-time list of Chelsea goal-scorers, he holds the record for consecutive appearances in the Premier League for an outfield player, at 164. This is a tribute to his dedication and conditioning as a footballer and it’s no coincidence that he manages to avoid long term injuries, while England’s current skipper Rio Ferdinand, has featured in just nine League games all year and played a bit part in the country’s successful World Cup qualifying campaign.
The pressure upon Lampard on the pitch is heightened by the fact he’s the Blues’ regular penalty taker, and his success is astounding with just a single failure in four years. His quality from the spot was clear to see as he scored three times from 12 yards against West Ham United earlier this season, after having to retake the penalty twice.
In addition, he struck from the spot in extra-time of a Champions League semi-final against Liverpool in 2008 just a week after the death of his mother. His two-handed point to the sky, a salute to his late mother, now accompanies his every goal, and Chelsea fans certainly aren’t in danger of getting bored of the gesture.
His profile off the pitch is nothing short of exemplary. A few misdemeanors during his younger years seemingly only went to teach Lampard how to behave as a professional footballer and an icon.
This maturity was clear to see, when last year, during a radio talk show, he called in after being labelled as ‘weak’ by presenter James O’Brien following accusations that he wasn’t looking after his children appropriately following his split from Elen Rives.
He dealt with the issue in a dignified manner, and given that the radio show coincided with the anniversary of his mother’s death, his coolness was applaudable.
His split from Rives in 2009 was much publicised in the tabloids, but did it affect his performances? No, as he scored a 90th minute winner for Chelsea against Wigan Athletic that very same month.
He does earn one of the higher wage packets in the division, £150,000 a week to be exact, but given that he’s rarely not match fit it is clearly money well spent.
It begs the question, with all these attributes, why the 31-year old wasn’t chosen as England’s replacement skipper, after team-mate John Terry was stripped of the captaincy?
Maybe the close relationship between the two always put Lampard out of the running, but if Fabio Capello was that concerned about relationships in the camp, and given Terry’s popularity, he wouldn’t have made the change at all.
It is difficult to find a flaw in Lampard; he doesn’t goad supporters or lambast referees, whilst off the pitch he doesn’t crave the media limelight as so many others do. It’s just a shame that Capello doesn’t seem acknowledge him in the same vein.