Frank Lampard on his Champions League highlights
Friday, May 15, 2020
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard reveals his favourite Champions League memories and his enduring love for the Blues.
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UEFA.com is running a series of UEFA Champions League Q&As every Friday in the coming weeks.
Here we revisit our chat in July with Frank Lampard, who captained Chelsea to the European title in 2012 and is now the manager at Stamford Bridge.
UEFA.com: How would you sum up your relationship with Chelsea, Stamford Bridge and the fans?
Frank Lampard: It's a defining thing in my life because I took Chelsea home with me the minute I joined the club. And for a boy travelling from east London as a West Ham fan growing up, that was a big deal. And then the experiences I had, for good or for bad. When I look back, I'm delighted at what I managed to achieve, or what we did as a group, except that we should have won more Premier League titles.
If I'm truly honest, I feel for this club deeply. Whether it's the fans who were on that journey with us, whether it was the players I played alongside, whether it's staff who are still here or have moved on, it's a special place for me. Hence why I want to do so well here. Of course, I want to do well for myself, I want to improve myself, but at the same time I want this club to be where it belongs.
What does the Champions League mean to you?
I remember the first Champions League games I played in the early to mid-2000s with Claudio Ranieri. I remember a home game against Lazio – we won 2-1 – and the actual shivers of hearing the music in the line-up before the game. I thought: "Wow! This is the thing, this is the real deal."
I had lots of ups and downs. We tried and fought to get to finals, we lost one, and then the culmination of that, to win at Munich, and to win in the circumstances we did – as underdogs in their home stadium. The ride we'd had to get there was crazy; it was the stuff of movies.
When anyone asks me about my career, I cannot help but have that as the moment that jumps out at me; that's what the Champions League is. If I'd have finished my career without that on my CV, I would have certainly felt incomplete, and I think this club would be incomplete. To win the Champions League as Chelsea, the first London club to do so, is something we're all proud of.
Intensity was a big part of your approach as a player. How important is it to you as a coach?
Intensity is everything for me. In a daily sense, how we train will be how we play. Intensity is many things. It's not just physical, it's also mental. It's how you approach every day and every game.
I think that will be defining because we have a hugely talented group of players – I know other teams do too, that's why it's so competitive in the Premier League, the Champions League etc. If you try to play the modern game without intensity, you've got no chance. And if you think you can train without intensity and play well, then you've got no chance.
What about your best Champions League goal?
It's against Bayern Munich in 2005, at home. It was the second goal I'd scored in the game; it was a chest and a left-footed volley on the turn, a half-volley, past Oliver Kahn. I've scored a few, but I think, technically, as I've got a bit older, I've looked back on that one. That's the one I probably couldn't do if I were asked 1,000 times to do it again, especially at my age now.
What was your best Champions League moment?
The moment that Didier Drogba's penalty hit the back of the net in Munich. I didn't enjoy the game, I didn't enjoy it at all. It was painful trying to hang on in there, and trying to get the game to penalties in the end. But the moment that the ball hit the back of the net was sensational.
Who was the best Champions League opponent you ever faced?
Can I give you two answers? It'll actually be three. The first is [Lionel] Messi because he was the most incredible player, and the player with balance, speed – it was like you were playing against someone who's not on the same level as all of us. I know I've played against some other great ones, but he was special, incredible – I'm not telling anyone anything they don't know.
But he wasn't quite [in] my position; the two players I always remember having the hardest time against were Xavi [Hernández] and [Andrés] Iniesta at Barcelona. On their pitch it felt vast, and they just played football around you, and you didn't get near them. At the Bridge we got slightly closer to them, but those two, as a pair, were something special: it was football that wasn't normal to me. It was different from anything else I came up against.
What was the best stadium you played in?
I'd say Barcelona's, the Nou Camp – or the Camp Nou, I'm sure you'd say. It's a stadium that's slightly dated behind the scenes but it has incredible magic, and the magic hits you as you walk out onto the pitch: the vast size, the atmosphere, the feeling that you can almost feel Ronaldo, [Johan] Cruyff, Rivaldo. In 2004/05, we played against them and Ronaldinho and [Samuel] Eto'o played like something I've never seen: the speed of their game. It was an eye-opener for me, and that stadium continued to be so throughout my career.