Frank Lampard reveals he is grateful for his West Ham education

Lampard

West Ham United hate figure Frank Lampard has admitted he is thankful for the 'great' start he had to his career at Upton Park before his move to Chelsea.

The 36-year-old Manchester City midfielder is finally set for a move to the MLS with New York this summer and was speaking quoted by The Express, after collecting the PFA Merit award for his 19-year career in English football.

Lampard's rare praise for the club where it all started for him and where his dad, Frank Senior, is a legend will come as something of a shock to West Ham fans.

Since leaving for fierce rivals Chelsea in 2001, after his uncle Harry Redknapp and dad Frank - who was then Redknapp's assistant - had been sacked, Lampard has barely had a good word to say about his former club.

While there is no denying a section of West Ham fans had got on a struggling Lampard's back while he was playing in the first team at Upton Park, the situation has been vastly exaggerated since the £11 million move across London.

If anything many Hammers supporters were angry to see a young player who had scored 24 goals in less than 150 games so eager to leave the club for such a bitter rival.

Years of bad blood between Lampard and the Hammers faithful followed. But he has now admitted for the first time since leaving East London aged 22 that he couldn't have wished for a better start to his career.

He said: "To get (the award) is a nice send-off, a nice ending to me.

"I've worked hard from a young age, I was lucky to have a great system at West Ham under Harry Redknapp, Tony Carr, my dad and many others."

But West Ham supporters will not like everything "Fat Frank" - as he was cruelly dubbed by some fans who love to hate him - had to say in his acceptance speech.

That's because the former England international also said leaving the club for Chelsea 'changed his life'.

He added: "I was fortunate enough to get a move to Chelsea which completely changed my life and my career. It was an amazing club and an incredible period of time there."

Lampard built bridges with some Hammers fans in 2010 when he, alongside then Chelsea teammates and fellow former West Ham players Joe Cole and John Terry, agreed to play - albeit briefly - in a team of Academy All Stars for a testimonial match in honour of legendary youth system chief Tony Carr.

His kind words for Chelsea may also go some way to repairing a few wounds with Blues fans who were unhappy with their record goalscorer's roundabout move to title rivals Manchester City.

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