As Frank Lampard prepares to play his 100th game for England, does he deserve to be considered among the very best?
For the majority of last season, it appeared Frank Lampard’s time at Chelsea was coming to an end.
With no sign of a new contract, and with his current deal expiring in June, the player who had worn the blue shirt with distinction for 12 years looked set for pastures new.
It was an inexplicable scenario to many, not least the vast majority of Chelsea fans who revered him. But just a day after the club’s Europa League success, the then-34-year-old signed a new one-year deal.
And now, as he prepares to play for his country for the 100th time, should we talk of him in the same breath as the likes of Ryan Giggs? Given his ongoing legacy, surely Lampard is a legend despite not yet hanging up his boots.
The midfielder’s 609 appearances for Chelsea is an outstanding feat in itself, and although he will never match Ron Harris’s record of 795, he isn’t finished just yet.
And on Tuesday evening he is set to complete a century of appearances for England – a mark of a truly great international player despite numerous views to the contrary over the years.
For too long, the debate as to whether Lampard and Steven Gerrard could play together exhausted the tongues of many a football fan. But now the other man in that tired debate has spoken out about his teammate in light of his upcoming achievement.
“Frank deserves all the accolades he gets,” Gerrard told the Mirror in the build-up to Tuesday’s game against Ukraine.
“No one deserves these 100 caps more than him,” he added. “Frank is a great player and has been for club and country for a very long time.”
Some would say great player, but others would say legend.
image: © Ben Sutherland