Lampard calls it a day

Frank Lampard’s retirement from football on Thursday attracted acclaim and admiration from the world game.

Chelsea’s record goalscorer, who also played for West Ham and Manchester City in the Premier League, and had a loan spell at Swansea, announced the end of his career.

The 38-year-old wrote on Instagram: “After 21 incredible years, I have decided that now is the right time to finish my career as a professional footballer.”

The former England midfielder left New York City FC last autumn.

He had received offers to continue playing, he said, and will now assess future opportunities.

“Whilst I have received a number of exciting offers to continue playing at home and abroad, at 38 I feel now is the time to begin the next chapter in my life,” he said.

“Looking forward, I’m grateful to the FA (Football Association) for the opportunity to study for my coaching qualifications and I look forward to pursuing the off-field opportunities that this decision opens.”

That leaves open the prospect of a return to Chelsea, who have long stated a desire to retain a lasting affinity with players of Lampard’s generation.

Although with Antonio Conte’s side nine points clear and favourites for the Premier League title, Lampard will likely have to wait to fulfil his ambition of managing the Blues.

For club and country, Lampard made 1,019 appearances, scoring 302 goals.

Friends and foes paid tribute on social media – from his former clubs and former team-mates to rival clubs like Barcelona.

His retirement statement was full of thanks – for West Ham, the club which gave him his debut in 1996, City, but most notably Chelsea.

Lampard joined the Blues from the Hammers for £11million in 2001. He scored 211 goals for Chelsea and won every major club honour before leaving in June 2014.

He netted the goals which in 2005 secured the club’s first championship title in 50 years.

And, with his friend John Terry suspended, Lampard was captain on the night Chelsea won the 2012 European Cup in Munich.

“The largest part of my heart belongs to Chelsea, a club which has given me so many great memories,” he added.

“I will never forget the opportunity they gave me and the success that we managed to achieve together.

“It is impossible to give thanks individually to all the people that helped and supported me in my 13 years playing there.

“All I can say is from the day I signed until now and going forward, I’m eternally grateful for everything and to everyone.

“Chelsea fans gave myself and my team-mates such incredible support.

“Their passion and hunger drove me on personally to give my best year after year. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

He scored against a record 39 Premier League opponents. And with England he netted 29 goals in 106 caps.

It is a ‘goal’ which was not awarded which gives him a lasting legacy on the field.

His 2010 World Cup strike against Germany clearly went across the line and expedited the introduction of goal-line technology.

And FIFA joined the congratulations for a career which included playing in three World Cup finals.

But, like many of his England contemporaries, Lampard’s club achievements went unmatched on the international stage.

And he retired from international football after his involvement in the 2014 World Cup, when England were dumped out at the group stage.

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