It wasn’t uncommon for Jose Mourinho to hail the talents of Frank Lampard during his first spell at Chelsea, but the midfielder has revealed that his former manager once told him that was just as a good as Zinedine Zidane.
In an interview with NBCSN's Men In Blazers, discussing his imminent move to MLS expansion side New York City FC, the Blues legend told of a conversation he had with Mourinho following the Portuguese mastermind’s arrival in the summer of 2004.
‘That [conversation] was in this country, it was in Seattle,’ he said. ‘We went into the shower, he came in and it was that awkward moment with a new manager.
‘You're both standing there, doing what you do in the shower, and I'm thinking, “What do I talk about here?” He turned and said to me, “You are the best player in the world.”
‘I was like, “What?” He said, “No, you are. You have to believe it. The only difference between you and [Zinedine] Zidane is that he's got a trophy cabinet and medals everywhere. If you want to be the best, you have to win things this year."’
Lampard hasn’t quite put himself in the same league as the Real Madrid legend since, but the ex-England international did achieve considerable success during his 13 total seasons at Stamford Bridge, scoring a club record 211 times in 648 games, while winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League in 2013.
Also finishing as runner-up to Ronaldinho for both the Ballon d’Or and 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year awards, the 36-year-old left North London this summer after the expiration of his contract, before signing a two-year deal with Manchester City-backed NYCFC, who are set to begin MLS play in 2015.
Moving to the Etihad Stadium on loan for the first-half of the 2014-15 campaign, in the meantime, Lampard has admitted that he can’t wait to begin life in the States, and is excited to do his part in helping both the league and the game as a whole grow across the Atlantic.
‘In the dressing rooms now back in Europe the players are talking about MLS,’ he said. ‘They’re watching it on TV – people probably wouldn’t have done that a few years ago.
‘David Beckham started that whole ball rolling. People are sitting up and taking notice that players are coming over to sign, and that there’s more quality going into the league.
‘When I come away from this I’d love to see young American talent develop because that’s hugely important as well,’ he added. ‘Soccer’s really big here at a younger age but then you lose them to other sports, so I’d love to see that change by people picking up the bug and wanting to play.’