Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Frank Lampard searching for new challenge after Chelsea career

New chapter: Frank Lampard, pictured with the Champions League trophy, is leaving Chelsea

Frank Lampard has confirmed he wants to write a new chapter in his career when he returns from the World Cup in Brazil after bringing an end to his 13-year association with Chelsea.

The 35-year-old issued a statement last night in which he revealed he has played his last game for the Blues.

Lampard has already been linked with a move to New York City FC but his England team-mates are convinced he still has a future at the highest level.

Fellow England midfielder James Milner said: "He's not finished yet. He's still got that quality and still has the goals, so I am sure he'll have plenty of offers and he will choose what is right.

"Players have ups and downs in their career, but every season he delivers and the example is set for the younger players coming in.

"Since I've been in the England squad he's been a top player, a top pro and that's exactly what we need going into a major tournament."

Lampard gave no immediate indication as to what the future might hold, instead choosing to thank those who helped him make such a success of his Stamford Bridge career.

Lampard said: "When I arrived at this fantastic club 13 years ago I would never have believed that I would be fortunate enough to play so many games and enjoy sharing in so much success.

"This club has become part of my life and I have so many people to thank for the opportunity. Firstly, Ken Bates, who put his neck on the line to sign me as a young player and without him I would not have even begun this experience.

"Roman Abramovich, the man who saved our club and took us all to new levels. His desire to push the club to the top of the football world has rubbed off on everyone.

"All the managers and coaches who have helped me develop my game during the time I have been here. I have learnt from every one of them.

"All the brilliant team-mates who I have been lucky enough to train and play alongside for so long. Not just their football qualities but also the friendships I have gained along the way.

"I'd also like to give a special mention to all the staff and people behind the scenes at the club who do not receive the glory but without them the club would simply not function.

"The club will move forward, and as a Chelsea man I have no doubt that with the quality of the players that are there, they will continue with the success that we have all enjoyed over the past seasons."

Lampard joined the Blues in 2001 after six seasons at Upton Park and went on to make 648 appearances and become the club's all-time top goalscorer with 211 in all competitions.

During his time at Stamford Bridge, Lampard won the Champions League, the Europa League, three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups.

The England international formed a vital part of the spine of the team built by Jose Mourinho after the arrival of owner Abramovich alongside the likes of John Terry, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba. Drogba left the Blues in 2012 and, while Terry has penned a new deal after an impressive season, Cech's place is likely to come under threat from the returning Thibaut Courtois.

Left-back Ashley Cole has left the club after his contract ran out and Mourinho appears to be reshaping his squad after a third-placed finish in last season's Barclays Premier League.

* Spanish striker David Villa has signed a three-year deal with New York City FC, the Major League Soccer club jointly owned by Manchester City and New York Yankees baseball team.

Villa, who helped Atletico Madrid win La Liga and is in Vicente del Bosque's World Cup squad, will join the new club when they begin playing in 2015.

Villa, 32, is a current world champion, making this arguably the biggest signing by an MLS team since David Beckham joined LA Galaxy in 2007.

"This is a historic moment for the club," said the chief executive, Ferran Soriano.

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