Frank Lampard enjoyed his long-awaited first training session with New York City FC on Wednesday morning, much to the delight of his new teammates.
Excitement has been building for the former England midfielder’s arrival ever since the announcement of his high-profile signing last summer, but the controversial decision to extend his stay with sister club Manchester City until the end of the 2014-15 season has so far seen him miss the first 17 games of the expansion side’s inaugural campaign.
He will not be eligible to feature until the league’s summer transfer window opens on 8 July – with his debut likely coming four days later against Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium – but the likes of defender Shay Facey were just delighted to see him on the training pitch after months of waiting.
“Everyone has been really excited and today he’s here, and I’m sure a lot of the guys after training will be talking to him and getting as much out of him as they can.”
Facey, who joined NYCFC on a fourth-month loan from City in March before having his spell extended for the rest of 2015, also spent time with Lampard at the Etihad Stadium last season and, despite his colossal reputation, believes the former Chelsea star will have no problems blending into the squad.
"There’s no ego with Frank,” added Facey. “He’s a really nice guy and I think that’s what took him so far in his career. He’s never had much bad things said about him. He’s a really nice guy as well as a world-class footballer. It’s easy to come and blend with our lads.
“I’d see him each day going into training [at City] and we’d chat now and again. English guys tend to stay together, you know how it is. He’d give me the odd tip or two even though he’s not in my position – more confidence, belief and all that kind of stuff. I’m sure he’ll help everyone else here. Everyone is looking forward to it.”
NYCFC have gotten off to a slow start to their first MLS season in the absence of Lampard, having taken just 17 points from their opening 17 matches after amassing four victories, five draws and eight defeats.
A recent three-game winning streak has helped moved them one spot off the bottom of the Eastern Conference into ninth place, but the weekend’s 3-1 home loss to crosstown rivals the New York Red Bulls proved somewhat of a reality check.
Nevertheless, with captain David Villa starting to hit form, Lampard finally coming on board and Italian legend Andrea Pirlo also expected to be announced as their third Designated Player this week, better times look to be ahead.