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great article i have just read in the daily mail (probably a first)


As English football's marathon man prepared to run through the double 500 barrier - 500 games for Chelsea, 500 appearances in the Premier League - the father who gave Frank Lampard life, a love of the game and an insatiable appetite for hard work was rummaging through the scrapbooks.

There - foot over the ball, shoulders set square, head high, eyes surveying all his options and perhaps peering into a golden future - was a forgotten black-and-white photograph of the upright five-year-old who has grown into the highest-scoring midfield player of the Premier League generation.

Not for another five years of watching him play for Heath Park boys' club on the Essex-East London border did Frank Snr dare allow himself to believe that his son might become a modern superstar.

Thereafter, he kept impressing on young Frank that only dedication would translate his precocious talent into an England player in the Lampard tradition

Still does. 'I have to admit I'm a tough task- master,' says Frank the patriarch. 'Not proud of it and I try to mix in the laugh and the joke. But he's been brought up in the royal tradition of the English game. I had the highest standards set for me by Bobby Moore. I've passed that on to my lad.

'Do I see something of myself in young Frank? Yes I do. And something of Mooro. He's just as critical of himself as we were. In part, that's been the making of him.'

The making of the human dynamo statistically proven to be the most effective Premier League player of the last decade. The making of the 2005 Footballer of the Year who is still running flat out for glory six years on at the age of 32.

The making of the phenomenon who not only covers more ground in a game than his dad's entire old West Ham team did in a month but who has scored 20 or more goals in five consecutive seasons for Chelsea, a sequence which has only been interrupted by the four months of injury from which he has just recovered. He should play his 500th game for Chelsea in Wednesday's Champions League clash against Manchester United.

The making into an England captain - if for one night only - of the boy sent by his parents to Brentwood private school to get 11 O-levels and the education which made him receptive to everything he needed to discover about his chosen profession.

That was a difficult choice, as Frank Snr explains: 'I knew he would only be eligible to play for England Schoolboys if he went to state school. But I wanted his mind to be open. A lot of kids have talent but it is understanding the game which can set the best apart. You have to learn the game, not just play it.'

Then he signed for West Ham, only to be met by suspicion among the fans that he had been taken on purely because his father was assistant boss to his uncle, Harry Redknapp. Not even 147 Premier League appearances were enough to remove the stigma and when the family management firm left so did young Frank, to Chelsea for £11million.

Frank Snr remembered his boy's first game for the Hammers - 'he came on as sub and I can still see him waiting alongside Harry and Coventry manager Gordon Strachan on the touchline' - as he watched him make his debut for Chelsea five years later. They are two of his always-watching Dad's five proudest moments.

The other three:

The first England cap, in company with his cousin Jamie Redknapp in the 2-1 friendly win over Belgium at Sunderland on October 10, 1999.

The scoring of both goals in the 2-0 win over Bolton in 2004 which clinched the first of Chelsea's three Premier League titles to date.

The honour of captaining England for his first (and so far only) time, against Denmark at Wembley in February.

And the most exciting moment?

The wonder goal against Bayern Munich in the Champions League when he controlled the ball on his chest and turned to volley an unstoppable shot, leaving Frank Snr to say: 'I had to look twice to make sure it went in.'

The worst moment: Not the preposterously disallowed goal in the 2010 World Cup against Germany, but losing the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow to Manchester United in a shoot-out, despite young Frank scoring the equaliser and one of the penalties.

The most uplifting moment, repeated every match day at Stamford Bridge: The unconditional adoration of the Chelsea fans, in contrast to both the lack of appreciation at West Ham and that period of jeering by England followers.

The most poignant moment: Raising his arms to the heavens, tears running down his cheeks, as he devoted his 2008 Champions League goal against Liverpool to his mother Pat, who had died tragically and inexplicably from pneumonia, aged 58, barely a fortnight earlier.

So what makes Frankie keep running? 'Something he grew up with which is even more relevant in this media age,' says his father. 'He knows that with all this attention you are only ever as good or bad as your last game. So every time he goes out he tries to play the best match of his life.'

As he reaches another milestone, will his underachieving contemporaries please take note.

P.S. The grandson and heir to the football family Lampard has already pulled on the boots. Claire, daughter and sister of the two Franks, has a five-year-old son who is showing considerable promise on the same windblown Gidea Park field where they cut their studs. His name: Stanley Skipper. 'How can he not captain England one day?' says Frank the Elder


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Stanley Skipper...what an awesome name

Congrats, Frank. Truly lucky to have you in our team, and f**k the Wet Spam and England moron's that ever booed you, jealousy is a terrible thing.

And if people still claim, and I'm sure there are some, that Gerrard is the better midfielder, they are delusional

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