Lampard vindicated after a long road to milestone

Lampard vindicated after a long road to milestone

WATFORD - Agence France-Presse
Lampard vindicated after a long road to milestone

Frank Lampard’s long and storied career will have another remarkable moment tonight when he will win his 100th cap for England. AFP photo

Frank Lampard admits he will feel a sense of vindication if he wins his 100th cap in England’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Ukraine tonight.

Despite being one of the most successful goalscoring midfielders English football has ever produced, Lampard, a member of a generation of players regarded as underachievers at international level, has not received universal acclaim.

Off the pitch he is intelligent and diplomatic; and on it he has scored a record 204 goals for Chelsea and 29 goals in 99 appearances for England. But all the same, there has been plenty of criticism throughout his career.

As recently as last year there were suggestions he was past his best as Chelsea stalled on offering the 35-year-old a new contract.

But Lampard responded in style, just as he had done earlier in his England career when fans at Wembley booed him during a particularly difficult time in 2007.

Earlier in his career it was even tougher, coming through the ranks at West Ham where his father Frank Lampard Senior was assistant manager and uncle Harry Redknapp the manager.

A YouTube video clip of a 1990s West Ham Fans Forum that has recently found its way onto the internet underlines the difficulties Lampard faced as he tried to make his way in the game.

The clip shows a young Lampard being angrily harangued by one irate supporter, leading Redknapp to produce an impassioned defense of his player, claiming he would one day become a major star for England.

“It was difficult,” said Lampard. “It’s nice when people say things like that. When you get a bit of stick and someone sticks up for you like that, I suppose it makes you want to make them right and I’m pleased I did because it looks great now when you look back, doesn’t it?”

That steely determination and a work ethic, has helped Lampard achieve more than other arguably more naturally talented players of his generation.