Chelsea legend Frank Lampard has announced his retirement.
James Clarke, author of Moody Blues: Following the second-best team in Europe, looks back on some of the most memorable goals of the midfielder’s trophy-laded Blues career.
After Frank Lampard signed for Chelsea in 2001, he only scored one goal in his first 22 games. By the time he left the club, he was its record goalscorer, with 211 to his name.
He will go down as one of the best Chelsea players ever.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been there for more than half Frank’s Chelsea goals – from the first against Levski Sofia to the two at Aston Villa which set a new club record – and as a Chelsea fan it really does feel a privilege to have seen him in action.
Here are my 10 favourite Frank Lampard Chelsea goals.
1. Bayern Munich (home) Champions League quarter-final, 6 April 2005
Fresh from knocking out Barcelona in the last 16, we took on another giant of European football. And this goal was one in the eye for the detractors who (ridiculously) say Lampard only scores from penalties and deflections. Claude Makelele crossed the ball into the box, Lampard controlled the ball on his chest, to the left of the goal and with his back to the net, spun round and volleyed it past Kahn. We won 4-2.
2. Bolton (away) Premier League, 30 April 2005
Chelsea went to Bolton knowing a win would make us champions for the first time in 50 years. Lampard had already put us 1-0 up but with Bolton only one behind the threat of an equaliser was always present and nobody could relax. Bolton had a corner but John Terry cleared it to Eidur Gudjohnsen, who fed it to Makelele in midfield. He controlled it, turned and played it into the path of Lampard, who was crossing the halfway line. Lampard sprinted forward with Ricardo Carvalho alongside him on the break but didn’t need to pass. He sprinted away from the Bolton defence, rounded Jussi Jaaskelainen, stuck the ball in the net and celebrated with his team-mates and the fans. Chelsea were champions. I couldn’t get a ticket for this game, I watched it in the pub, and have always envied those who were there.
3. Barcelona (away) Champions League group stage, 31 October 2006
Another one I watched on TV but another I couldn’t leave out. Yet again the pass came from Claude Makelele but it left Lampard with a lot to do. The cross flew over his head and he chased to control it near the goal-line, to the left of the goal. Then in one movement he turned towards the net and chipped it over Victor Valdes from a ridiculously tight angle into the far corner of the net. It was perfectly placed – Valdes stretched as high as he could and the ball reached over his hands before settling in the net. Another show of Lampard’s immense skill on the big occasion.
4. Liverpool (home) Champions League semi-final, 30 April 2008
This goal was only a penalty but rarely can the words ‘only a penalty’ have seemed more inappropriate. Less than a week after Frank’s mother died, he returned to the team, having missed the weekend win over Manchester United, for the second leg of yet another European semi-final against Liverpool. The match went to extra time and in the added period we won a penalty. Michael Ballack had scored a penalty against United and could have taken this one to spare Lampard’s nerves – but of course he didn’t want that. Frank took the ball and stuck it away and we were in the Champions League final. What a pro.
5. Manchester United, Champions League final, 21 May 2008
This was Frank’s next goal after that penalty and although this final in Moscow would end in crushing disappointment, this goal was an example of something nobody has done better than him over the past decade – turning up on the edge of the area to stick the ball in the net. A Michael Essien shot took a couple of deflections off United defenders and dropped to Frank, who was sniffing around for a chance as he so often has. Of course he scored and I was delighted he had done so on club football’s biggest stage.
6. Hull City (away) Premier League 29 October 2008
This was a goal of astonishing quality. Only two minutes into the game, a defender tackled Florent Malouda and the ball rolled to Lampard on the edge of the box. With his supposedly-weaker left foot, he chipped it first time with pinpoint accuracy into the far corner of the net as the keeper stood and watched. Utterly brilliant.
7. Ipswich Town (home) FA Cup fourth round, 24 January 2009
Another goal of incredible brilliance. Lampard has been taking free-kicks for Chelsea for years and has perhaps not scored as many as he would have liked. But this one was fantastic. Hit from about 40 yards out, almost on the right wing, it flew into the top corner of the net so fast the keeper barely moved. If Cristiano Ronaldo had hit it, it would still be shown on TV every few weeks.
8. Everton, FA Cup final, 30 May 2009
Again Frank scores a cracking goal on a big occasion. With the score at 1-1 and about 20 minutes to go, the game was in the balance. Lampard picked the ball up outside the area, turned one defender and then got his shot away with his left foot before another could close him down. It flew into the top corner and Frank was centre stage for yet another Chelsea trophy win.
9. Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, 15 April 2012
Another brilliant FA Cup goal and another 40-yard free kick. Chelsea were already 3-1 up at Wembley when Frank placed the ball, ran up and struck it perfectly and watched it fly into the net past former team-mate Carlo Cudicini. It was unstoppable and brilliantly placed out of the keeper’s reach. We went on to beat our great rivals 5-1 on what was a great day for Blues fans and a few weeks later beat Liverpool in the final.
10. Aston Villa (away) Premier League, 11 May 2013
I’m picking this one for a number of reasons. It was the goal that took Frank past Bobby Tambling’s record, it was a vital winning goal and it was another example of what he does so well – ghosting in from midfield into the danger area in the six-yard box where traditionally only strikers are really meant to be. But I also pick it out for the way Frank celebrated with the Chelsea fans – knowing how much the goal meant to them as well. That he acknowledged that says so much about him as a man as well as a footballer.