The Liverpool and England captain and his Chelsea counterpart are undoubtedly the best English midfielders of their generation. At 32 and 34 years of age respectively, they both likely have only one international tournament left it their careers with the World Cup 2014 their last chance at one final dance for their country.
The Reds skipper was given the armband for his country by England manager Roy Hodgson upon his appointment. Gerrard likely got the job over the Chelsea veteran due to his previous relationship with Hodgson during his time in charge at Anfield.
However, that is not to do Gerrard a disservice. I wrote an article last month asserting my firm belief that both Gerrard and Lampard must be included in Hodgson’s World Cup squad next year, provided they are fit.
The experience they provide in the dressing room alone makes them worth their weight in gold. They have combined made 196 appearances for England at senior level and have scored 47 goals between them.
Lampard, the elder of the pair has scored 28 goals in 95 appearances for the national team and for Chelsea he has been part of the spine, the nucleus of the team for over a decade.
His medals speak for themselves – he’s won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and a Champions League winners medal. He has scored more than 10 goals per season for the last 10 seasons consecutively – more than 20 goals in five of those and has consistently maintained the highest level of competition consistently.
Much the same can be said of Gerrard – in fact his CV is as accomplished with Liverpool, the league titles aside. He’s won two FA Cups, a Champions League title, a UEFA Cup and two UEFA Super Cup medals. He even picked up a Ballon d’Or bronze award in 2005 for his individual performance.
Lampard was awarded a Ballon d’Or silver in the same year, narrowly beating Gerrard and coming second in the world at the highest level only to Ronaldinho. Their credentials are on paper as impressive as their displays on the field. They are talismanic figures on the pitch, in the dressing room and even at their manager’s side in press conferences.
Both are intelligent, articulate, and diplomatic personalities – they represent themselves, their clubs and their country as professionals and as people. They are the very best role models for younger generations.
Who is the better player? Lampard’s goal tally and record makes him undoubtedly the superior finisher. However, Gerrard’s vision and passing is, for me, slightly and subtly more effective.
Gerrard’s ability to pick out a pass, a cross or a through ball from deep inside his own half is a key factor in why the likes of Fernando Torres, and now Luis Suarez have scored so many goals for Liverpool. Gerrard has more of an eye for delivery. I also believe he is the more astute tackler of the two.
They are level when it comes to their long-range shooting – we’ve seen for more than a decade how dangerous both of them are around the outskirts of the opposition’s penalty area.
They are both diligent – they always give their utmost and it is their energy and relentless determination, which makes them the leader’s they are on the field. Either one of them could have been England captain in my estimation.
However, Gerrard just edges out ahead of Lampard for one reason and one reason only – I believe Lampard has had a higher quality of players around him at Chelsea.
The Abramovich revolution has meant Lampard has graced the pitch with the likes of Claude Makelele, Arjen Robben, Didier Drogba, John Terry, Petr Cech, Deco, Michael Essien, Michael Ballack, Andrei Shevchenko, Ashley Cole, Ricardo Carvalho, Flaurent Malouda, Nicholas Anelka, Joe Cole, Juan Sebastian Veron, Hernan Crespo, Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink, Gianfranco Zola, and now Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Ramires and Oscar.
Whilst Liverpool have had and still have a wealth of talent within their ranks, Gerrard has, at numerous junctures over his tenure, been forced to be the lone star – the driver and the vehicle at the same time.
Arguably, since the departure of Xabi Alonso, he has operated as a force of nature all on his own in the heart of the Reds’ midfield. He is the heartbeat of that team and the club itself.
This season Suarez has taken a large part of the burden off Gerrard’s shoulders – at least now the weight of scoring and creating goals has been lifted and redistributed more evenly throughout the team.
That is something that hasn’t been the case since 2010 when Torres was at his best at Liverpool. Dirk Kuyt had been a great ally of Gerrard’s as has Alonso. Now Rodgers will be hoping Daniel Sturridge can fill the former’s boots to some extent.
For me they are both exceptionally talented and hard working players – the very best of their generation. However, I believe Gerrard earned his right to wear the armband for his country based on his unrivalled service during a spell in which Liverpool have lacked the quality and domination they had previously enjoyed in abundance.
Steven Gerrard has ensured the great name of Liverpool FC has remained on trophies in the last decade – almost single-handedly. Without him I struggle to imagine that would have been the case.
Give us your verdict - Who has had the more successful career and who was better at their peak?
image: © Live4Soccer