Frank Lampard last night confirmed he will seek a new challenge when he returns from the World Cup in Brazil after bringing an end to his 13-year association with Chelsea.
The 35-year-old issued a statement in which he revealed he has played his last game for the Blues. Lampard has already been linked with a move to New York City FC but his England team-mates are convinced he still has a future at the highest level.
Fellow England midfielder James Milner said: “He’s not finished yet. He’s still got that quality and still has the goals, so I am sure he’ll have plenty of offers and he will choose what is right. Players have ups and downs in their careers, but every season he delivers and the example is set for the younger players coming in.
“Since I’ve been in the England squad he’s been a top player, a top pro and that’s exactly what we need going into a major tournament.”
Lampard gave no immediate indication as to what the future might hold, instead choosing to thank those who helped him make such a success of his Stamford Bridge career.
Lampard said: “When I arrived at this fantastic club 13 years ago I would never have believed that I would be fortunate enough to play so many games and enjoy sharing in so much success. This club has become part of my life and I have so many people to thank for the opportunity. Firstly, Ken Bates, who put his neck on the line to sign me as a young player and without him I would not have even begun this experience.
“Roman Abramovich, the man who saved our club and took us all to new levels. His desire to push the club to the top of the football world has rubbed off on everyone. All the managers and coaches who have helped me develop my game during the time I have been here. I have learned from every one of them.
“All the brilliant team-mates who I have been lucky enough to train and play alongside for so long. Not just their football qualities but also the friendships I have gained along the way. I’d also like to give a special mention to all the staff and people behind the scenes at the club who do not receive the glory but without them the club would simply not function. The club will move forward, and as a Chelsea man I have no doubt that with the quality of the players that are there, they will continue with the success that we have all enjoyed over the past seasons.”
Lampard joined the Blues in 2001 after six seasons at Upton Park and went on to make 648 appearances and become the club’s all-time top goalscorer with 211 in all competitions. During his time at Stamford Bridge, Lampard won the Champions League, the Europa League, three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups.
The England international formed a vital part of the spine of the team built by Jose Mourinho after the arrival of owner Abramovich alongside the likes of John Terry, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba.
Lampard went on to pay tribute to the Chelsea supporters, adding: “Finally and most importantly, I would like to thank the Chelsea fans.
“I believe they are the greatest fans in world football. You have supported me from the moment I arrived. Not only on the pitch, but in difficult moments in my personal life off the pitch. I will never forget. I feel honoured to have shared so many special times with you. Bolton, Amsterdam, Munich, the list goes on and on.”
• Born: 20 June, 1978 in Romford, London
• Comes through the youth ranks at West Ham United and after a loan spell at Swansea City, establishes himself as a mainstay of the Hammers’ midfield from 1996 to 2001 under his uncle and manager Harry Redknapp. His father Frank Senior is Redknapp’s assistant.
• Makes his full England debut on 10 October, 1999 and goes on to make 103 appearances, featuring in two World Cups, Euro 2004 and being selected a vice-captain for the 2014 World Cup.
• Leaves West Ham for Chelsea in an £11 million move in 2001 and, after a slow first two seasons, he becomes one of the best goalscoring midfielders in the world.
• Wins 2005 and 2006 Premier League titles with Chelsea under Jose Mourinho and the 2010 title under Carlo Ancelotti. Also helps Blues lift the 2012 Champions League and 2013 Europa League as well as four FA Cups and two League Cups.
• Becomes Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer and goes on to net 211 goals in all competitions for the club.