Swansea boss Paul Clement has revealed he tried to sign Frank Lampard before the former England star announced his retirement.
Lampard yesterday brought the curtain down on a distinguished playing career for club and country, in which he scored 302 goals in 1,019 appearances.
Chelsea’s record goalscorer also played for West Ham, Manchester City and New York City FC, as well as having a loan spell at Swansea right at the start of his career.
And Clement — who worked with Lampard when he was Chelsea’s assistant manager — said he tried to bring the 38-year-old back to south Wales following his appointment at the Liberty Stadium at the start of January.
“We had a chat. I think he appreciated that I called him because of our relationship,” Clement said.
“I am not saying it got close in any way, but we had a conversation. It did not go very far, but it would have been nice. It would have been good.
‘’His ability as a player we all know about. But he is also a very good leader and character and a fantastic professional.”
Lampard was sent out on loan by West Ham in October 1995 when he was just 17.
He ended up making 11 appearances for Swansea, scoring one goal, and told Clement how he enjoyed his time at a club who were then in the third tier of English football.
“I spoke to him about his time here,” Clement said. “It was a long time ago now when he was at West Ham. But he spoke really fondly of the club and the people who were here. It was part of his education on to going on and having such a great career.’’
Lampard’s retirement from football yesterday attracted acclaim and admiration throughout the world game.
The former England midfielder had received several offers to continue playing, he said, and will now assess future opportunities.
“Whilst I have received a number of exciting offers to continue playing at home and abroad, at 38 I feel now is the time to begin the next chapter in my life,” he wrote on Instagram. “Looking forward, I’m grateful to the FA for the opportunity to study for my coaching qualifications and I look forward to pursuing the off-field opportunities that this decision opens.”
After 21 incredible years, I have decided that now is the right time to finish my career as a professional footballer. Whilst I have received a number of exciting offers to continue playing at home and abroad, at 38 I feel now is the time to begin the next chapter in my life. I’m immensely proud of the trophies I’ve won, of representing my country over 100 times and of scoring more than 300 career goals. I have many people to thank. I thank my parents for instilling in me the values of hard work, dedication and professionalism, values which I have carried with me in everything that I do. I am forever grateful for the support of my family, my wife Christine and my two daughters Luna and Isla. What you have given me off the pitch has always been my strength on it. I love you all very much. Also, my friends and my own team that have always been there for me. I would like to thank the amazing team-mates, coaches, managers and backroom staff that I was privileged to work with. I’d also like to pay tribute to the clubs that I have represented. Firstly, West Ham United who gave me my debut in 1996. Thanks to the people there that believed in me at that young age. More recently Manchester City and NYCFC. I greatly enjoyed my last playing years at these two clubs and really appreciate the support I received from City Football Group and both clubs’ fans. Of course, the largest part of my heart belongs to Chelsea, a club which has given me so many great memories. I will never forget the opportunity they gave me and the success that we managed to achieve together. It is impossible to give thanks individually to all the people that helped and supported me in my 13 years playing there. All I can say is from the day I signed until now and going forward, I’m eternally grateful for everything and to everyone. Chelsea fans gave myself and my teammates such incredible support. Their passion and hunger drove me on personally to give my best year after year. I couldn’t have done it without them. Looking forward, I’m grateful to the FA for the opportunity to study for my coaching qualifications and I look forward to pursuing the off-field opportunities that this decision opens.
That leaves open the prospect of a return to Chelsea, who have long stated a desire to retain a lasting affinity with players of Lampard’s generation.
Friends and foes paid tribute on social media — from his former clubs and former team-mates to rival clubs like Barcelona.
His retirement statement was full of thanks — for West Ham, the club which gave him his debut in 1996, City, but most notably Chelsea.
Lampard joined the Blues from the Hammers for £11m (€12.8m) in 2001. He scored 211 goals for Chelsea and won every major club honour before leaving in June 2014.
He netted the goals which in 2005 secured the club’s first championship title in 50 years.
And, with his friend John Terry suspended, Lampard was captain on the night Chelsea won the 2012 European Cup in Munich.
“The largest part of my heart belongs to Chelsea, a club which has given me so many great memories,” he added.
“I will never forget the opportunity they gave me and the success that we managed to achieve together.”
Terry paid an emotional tribute on Instagram.
“The greatest player in the history of our great football club,” he wrote. “All the great memories together winning trophy after trophy year after year I will never forget. You have won everything and should be extremely proud.
“It’s been my pleasure and honour to play and experience all those great moments with you. A gentleman both on and off the pitch, leader in the dressing room and if I could choose one person next to me in the trenches it would be you.”
Striker Didier Drogba, who combined with Lampard and Terry in an imposing spine of Chelsea’s first Premier League-winning team, added his tribute: “A gentleman with true values, I’ve been honoured to play and spend so many years next to him.”
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