When Frank Lampard nodded a header past Jussi Jääskeläinen to give Chelsea the lead against West Ham this weekend, he scored his 13th goal of the season. What is the statistic that you are perhaps more likely to have heard however, is that this was his 200th career goal for Chelsea – leaving him just two goals behind the all-time record for the club, held by legendary striker Bobby Tambling.
I was originally planning on describing this goal as a “typical Lampard finish” – but quite simply I realised that this description is largely unhelpful. It leaves images of arriving late in the box and sweeping home, of thirty-yard thunderbolts, and of tidy tap-ins. What this goal was is the ‘new’ Lampard trademark: his late-developing skill of heading the ball. His glancing of the ball into the back of the net reflects what he himself describes as an ability he works on ‘when he can’; an addition to his repertoire that he himself is not entirely sure where it came from.
What is clear from his reaching of this milestone, and the approaching of this record is that Frank Lampard deserves a new contract. With his current deal expiring at the end of the season, and Chelsea still reportedly yet to offer terms of an extension, Lampard may soon find himself leaving Stamford Bridge, having been at the club since joining from West Ham in 2001. This is not based simply on the past accomplishments and loyalty to the man who captained Chelsea in their Champions League final victory, this is based entirely on his merits as a footballer this season. You’re only as good as your last match? Lampard scored. Truth be told, Lampard is having one of his best-ever seasons. Even at the ripe old age of 34, Lampard is averaging better than a goal every other game this season; an impressive stat from a striker in his pomp, let alone an aging centre-mid. Lampard is a fantastic passer of the ball, chips in with an outrageous number of goals – indeed this marks the 10th consecutive season in which his goal and assists tallies have both reached double figures – and acts as a wonderful example of professionalism in both conduct and performance to the younger players at the club. It would be a terrible shame if the Chelsea support, which has been extremely vocal in their hopes of a new contract for the famed number 8, were to be robbed of the outstanding contribution the 94-cap England star makes in their side based on his age. The quality of Lampard’s current level of play has been shown indisputably with the reported interest of Manchester United, Inter Milan and Real Madrid joining the usual crowd of Major League Soccer and the Russian oil-rich clubs in attempting to convince Lamps to make the move this summer. As much as this article is not intended to criticise the Chelsea Chairman; one has to question why Roman Abramovic seems to think that his opinion that Frank Lampard is finished is correct over the opinions of Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink, as well as all reasonable factual evidence.
This is not to say however, that the beautiful game is Lampard’s only option in life. In February Lampard did pen a lucrative contract – with publishers Little Brown to write his own series of children’s books entitled “Frankie’s Magic Football”. Whether one or two stories from Lampard’s past will be featured remain to be seen, but with the target market being 5+, it would probably be for the best if teammate John Terry wasn’t featured too predominately.