The big interview: Frank Lampard – "When an overweight woman in the chicken run shouted 'Fat Frank', that was when I realised it was getting ridiculous"

Frank Lampard
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I’ll never forget your penalty in the Munich shootout. If you’d missed, we’d have been as good as out, and you put it inches under the bar. Was that the most nervous you’ve been on a football pitch, or do you find shootouts easier to handle if you’re involved in them?
Brent Sammons, Melbourne
Penalty shootouts are my least-favourite thing in football. That one the most nervous I had been on a football pitch because Manuel Neuer looked so big in the goal, and we had already missed one. I had it in my mind that I was going to hit it exactly there high up in the goal.

Frank Lampard, Champions League

Lampard finally gets his hands on ol' Big Ears

As acting skipper in Munich for Chelsea’s Champions League final, did you mind JT gatecrashing the party and lift the cup with you? Personally, I’d have been more annoyed with Jose Bosingwa ruining the moment by pushing to the front!
Rowan Welch, via Twitter
[Laughs]. I certainly didn’t mind John. A lot was made out of that, and John took some stick for that, which I think was really bad. For so many years John had tried to win that competition and we had got so close, and I remember him and Gary Cahill played an unbelievable game in the first leg of the semi-final against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge.

As club captain, John had every right to be there. To miss just one game and then not deserve to get the Cup would have been ridiculous. It was up to him, and he deserved that moment. As for Bosingwa, he obviously knew what he was doing as he is in all the pictures! That is typical Bosingwa – that’s fine, I’m not bothered about that.

Your consistency is incredible, with you missing not a single league game for Chelsea in three years. How do you do it? What did you make of Rafa Benitez’s assertion last season that you could no longer play twice in a week?
Matt Shield, Surrey
The consistency comes down to fitness and looking after yourself, and I have been lucky with injuries. I don’t think Benitez made that assumption – I did play twice in a week quite a few times, he just didn’t play me as much. But that was a rotation thing, which was his way. I didn’t have a problem with that at all, we all knew where we stood with him.

At 34 it was understandable I wasn’t going to play every game. People jumped to conclusions that I would be upset by it, but I wasn’t, and it helped us to get to where we wanted to be. I had a great last six months with him, winning the Europa League and qualifying for the Champions League.

Congratulations on winning your 100th cap for England. Which was your best game? And which was the most heartbreaking?
Paul Lucas, Winchester
Euro 2004 was amazing, I couldn’t really pick one game, the atmosphere was amazing in every game we played. That was my favourite era playing for England. My worst moment was missing my penalty against Portugal in the shootout at Germany 2006. It meant we were going home, and I haven’t had many worse feelings in football than that.

What’s been your most satisfying goal in a Chelsea shirt: your second at Bolton in 2005 to secure the title, the equaliser in Moscow in the 2008 Champions League Final, or goal No.203 at Villa Park earlier this year? And what was your best goal? I think the chest, turn and volley against Munich in 2005...
Charlie G, Staines
My favourite goals are that one at Bolton and then the 203rd at Villa Park for the celebrations and what they meant to me. Technically that goal against Bayern Munich was my best, or the one against Barcelona when I chipped it over the keeper from the byline.

If every team-mate (club or country) you have played with had one huge fist fight, who would you bet on to be the last man standing?
Shawn Armstrong, via Facebook
[Laughs] That is a good question. The first name that springs to mind is Branislav Ivanovic. John Hartson and Neil Ruddock would be in there too, but modern day it is probably Ivanovic.

There was a lot of talk about you passing Bobby Tambling’s Chelsea goals record last season… and you slowed down a bit towards the end! Did the thought of passing it ever affect your game? Did you ever shoot when you might have passed?
Hakan Davison, via Twitter
I never shot when I should have passed. Everyone was so behind me breaking the record that they would be telling me to shoot from 50 yards. I really didn’t want to come across to my team-mates that I was just shooting to break a personal record. Don’t get me wrong, there were a couple of games where we were winning comfortably in the last 10 minutes when I thought I might have a chance to get forward more. I found the more nervous and desperate I got the more difficult it got, so I had to relax myself.

I've had a lot of good managers, but Jose’s motivation techniques are the most incredible, whether it be kicking the flip chart or building the team up.

In his book, Zlatan Ibrahimovic talks about how Jose Mourinho “built players up” before matches, saying: “It was like a psychological game. He might show videos where we had played badly... then gave the flip-chart a kick and sent it flying across the room. The adrenaline pumped inside us and we went out like rabid animals.” Have you ever witnessed such a scene from him?
P Ardell, via Facebook
Yes, kind of, and I read that book myself. Zlatan is a very outspoken person, and he was very dramatic in how he portrayed it, but I understand what he was saying. I have had a lot of very good managers, but Jose’s motivation techniques are the most incredible, whether it be kicking the flip chart or building the team up. He is always so confident. At half-time we might be 0-0, but you come in and he will say, “We are going to win 4-0, we are playing so well, I can just sense it”. And generally that would happen. It was the first time I had ever heard that because managers never say that sort of thing as they think it makes their players relax and think it will be easy.

There was much speculation over your contract last season. Was there ever a genuine possibility of you leaving Chelsea?
Cliff Z, via Facebook
Yes there was, because at one stage I was out of contract and I wasn’t going to get a new one. It was the first time I had been in that situation, so I had to open my eyes to going elsewhere. But I didn’t want to leave because I still have a lot to offer. If I had left I would have gone abroad, I just can’t imagine myself playing for another Premier League team after such a long career at Chelsea.

Frank Lampard, Lionel Messi

Surprise, surprise: Lampard says Messi is the best he's ever faced

Who is the best player you played with or against?
Lee Pemberton, Beckenham
That’s easy. Lionel Messi. I used to love Ronaldinho, and I love Cristiano Ronaldo too, his goals record at Real Madrid is amazing. But having played against him at the both the Nou Camp and Stamford Bridge it has to be Messi. You just can’t get near him.

What would you like to do after your playing career?
Jay Martin, via Twitter
I would like to do my badges, which I will do after my England career finishes whenever that is. I am looking to become a manager.

Frank Lampard, Bolton

Bundle! Lampard (bottom, somewhere) and his Chelsea chums celebrate his title-winning goal at Bolton

This interview was originally published in the December 2013 issue of FourFourTwo.

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