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true blue Being sacked hurt my pride but my bond with Chelsea is still strong - Frank Lampard


Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. Photo: Matthew Childs/PA

Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. Photo: Matthew Childs/PA

Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. Photo: Matthew Childs/PA

Whether it be the winner’s medal he found in a shoe, the supporters who still sing his name and idolise him for his service as a player and head coach, or his entry into the Premier League Hall of Fame, reminders of his special connection with Chelsea are never too far away for Frank Lampard.

That bond has not been diminished by his sacking, despite admitting that his pride initially took a hit, and he is readying himself for the next challenge and restarting his managerial career away from Stamford Bridge.

“I have to say that when you lose your job it’s hard,” he says. “Anyone who says anything differently is a liar. It’s not the truth. There’s an element of pride, you’re working towards something one day and then it’s taken away from you. That’s life. You have to be a realist about it.

“Very quickly the dust has to settle and one of the biggest things for me, living in Chelsea, a mile from the ground, is that I walk around and see Chelsea fans all of the time. You do wonder what the reaction will be because you’ve lost your job, will they be happy with what you did or not?

“I think it made me realise even more, the bond I had with them from my playing days but also what they saw, what I was working towards in season one (as head coach), up until the point where I left in season two. I was working with a real vision because I care about the club.

“I wouldn’t have gone into the job without a full understanding that at some stage I might leave in whatever circumstances. I didn’t go into it with just a full heart, wanting to go back to Chelsea after a year managing at Derby. I went into it with a full head and realising what an opportunity it was. Would it last forever? History tells you probably not.

“I’ve come to terms with the fact that my managerial career just carries on and the beautiful thing is that I have come away from the club that I love, played at for so long and I’ve still got some really strong connections and I love that side of it.”

The past three months, since losing his job as Chelsea head coach, have given Lampard a rare chance for reflection and the opportunity to find new employment as the family bin man, while also spending time with wife Christine and their young children, Patricia and Freddie, who was born in March, and his older daughters Isla and Luna.

“It’s been a nice couple of months just to take in, being with a baby, not working and completely throwing yourself into that and I’ve enjoyed that side and that’s been a big plus. The shock has been how often I’ve been called upon to do the house chores. Dishwasher, the rubbish, I’m the rubbish man, taking it out every Monday and Thursday.”

Induction into the Hall of Fame, alongside Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Dennis Bergkamp, has brought back memories of all the highs for a footballer who was never the best player in his age group at the start of his career, but who was a record-breaker, a Premier League and Champions League winner, and a Ballon d’Or runner-up by the end.

An unexpected reminder also came when Lampard was tidying his shoes. “I was cleaning out my shoes recently and I found one of my Premier League winners’ medals in a shoe,” Lampard says. “I probably tucked it in with a hangover the morning after an end-of-season do and forgot about it.

“You can probably tell I’m not huge into displaying my medals. But it’s pretty humbling (being inducted into the Hall of Fame) and it gives me a personal amount of pride. An award like this made me remember moments in my early career and people I should be thanking for helping me up the ladder.”

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There have been suggestions since, even pushed by midfielder Jorginho, that the Chelsea job came too soon for Lampard, but he insists that age and experience would not have changed the rules of engagement.

“It’s always going to be a fact as a manager when you leave a club, there will be some players who did not play so much and they might have a feeling or a judgment on how you work and they can make statements. I’ve seen some quotes saying that Frank Lampard took this job with his heart. I absolutely didn’t. I don’t make any professional decisions with my heart.

“Maybe I’m the absolute opposite of that. I’ll go over them a hundred times in my head, but I certainly didn’t with my heart. I took it with a pragmatic view of: ‘What’s the situation? OK, this is Chelsea, I’m going from Derby to Chelsea.’ Not many managers would turn that down head or heart, let’s get it right.

“If I was to come back to Chelsea at 55 years of age, with titles behind me, I think the rules would be the same. There is an expectation to perform, and to win and if you don’t then you might leave the club. I went into it knowing how I want to manage. From the 20 years of playing, the great managers I worked under, the year in the media where I looked at myself, where I wanted to be and if I wanted to go into management.

“I come away with an overall feeling of pride in what I did in the job. I wanted to stay longer, I wanted real tangible success which, at Chelsea, is winning cups and winning leagues, but it didn’t happen. Hopefully, from where I took over the job, I’ve laid down strong foundations for the future and in the context of where I wanted my managerial career to go, it was an amazing experience.”

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]

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