Michael Ballack comments on Frank Lampard's exit from Chelsea

From one midfield great to another, Germany legend pays tribute to the man from London.

Sports aficionados look back kindly on longevity. 

It's why Mike Tyson was considered great in the late 1980s, but not a boxing great when looking back amongst other top tier heavyweights like Lennox Lewis, Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Jack Johnson - all of whom experienced lengthy spells at the top, like Wladimir Klitschko is currently enjoying.

Football need be no different.

Fernando Torres was great at Atletico Madrid and Liverpool, but not a footballing great when looking back amongst other top tier strikers like Thierry Henry, Ronaldo, Marco van Basten, Gerd Muller, Eusebio, Pele and Aldredo di Stefano.

Frank Lampard has enjoyed Premier League longevity. The man is a freak of nature. From the time he made his Chelsea debut, he went on to make 164 consecutive appearances in the division - a record - and testament to his extraordinary fitness. He has been an ever-present Blue from 2001 to this season, winning all major honours available to him in that time-frame.

It is no surprise that, as Lampard announces he will leave Stamford Bridge, the player attracts tributes from respected members of the football community and one, a legitimate German great, has labeled his former Chelsea team-mate "a legend".

Michael Ballack is quoted by Sky Sports to have said: "He's now at an age where he can be more relaxed; he's achieved everything with Chelsea. He's a legend there - and also for England. He's in a good position. He should think about what he wants; does he want success in sport still, to play at the highest level? Or does he want to enjoy life?

"I think he'll have a lot of offers. He's experienced enough to make the right decision."

One of those offers appears to be coming from New York City, yet Ballack - a three-time German footballer of the year - believes it won't be long before he returns to SW6, perhaps in a coaching capacity.

"He'll always be welcome at Chelsea, maybe it's not bad if he plays a few years somewhere else and gains influences from outside England - but I think there will always be a place at Chelsea for him in the future."


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