Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Lampard can't wait to start tackling his American challenge

New surroundings: Frank Lampard takes in the New York scenery
New surroundings: Frank Lampard takes in the New York scenery

Frank Lampard had no hesitation in signing a two-year contract with New York City FC to move to Major League Soccer.

The 36-year-old was sought after all over the world after leaving Chelsea at the end of last term following 13 seasons and a club record 211 goals.

The midfielder becomes the fourth player to sign for New York City FC, the MLS' 20th expansion franchise, and the second major summer signing following the arrival of David Villa from Atletico Madrid.

Despite joining a new club in a still-emerging league, Lampard insisted the move was not a gamble.

"What professional move doesn't have risk with it?" Lampard said at a media conference in New York, streamed live on nycfc.com.

"It's not a risk. It's a challenge. I can be in the middle of that challenge.

"I want to make New York City a team that New Yorkers are proud of. And I will do my best to do that."

Lampard made 649 appearances for Chelsea since signing from West Ham in 2001. He has played 106 times for England, scoring 29 goals.

He signed a one-year contract extension with the Blues in May 2013 after mulling over a move to the Los Angeles Galaxy, who he will now play in opposition from next spring.

New York City FC sporting director Claudio Reyna said Lampard was "one of the greatest players over the last 15 years" and "ticked all the boxes" in terms of a signing.

Lampard, who won every club trophy on offer with Chelsea, added: "Why not choose New York City? Talking about it ticking all the boxes, personally for me this does exactly the same.

"It's a very exciting challenge for me in life terms.

"I've seen the vision, a real long-term plan and I wanted to be part of that. I want to test myself, I want to carry on challenging myself, I want to be that leader, and not just on the pitch, but someone off the pitch.

"I had a fantastic 13 years at Chelsea, I can look back at that with immense pride. (But) it was a good time for myself and Chelsea that I moved on."

Lampard is convinced by the standard of MLS.

"We saw David Beckham come here, we saw the league take great strides," he added. "The quality has gone up and up. I've been watching games in the MLS back home for a long time now.

"Big players are coming out here. David Villa, Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane and the American home-based players.

"We only have to look at what the USA did at the World Cup and the imprint they left on the world.

"The respect the MLS has around the world has gone up huge amounts. That's what makes it such a great opportunity and a challenge for me.

"The appeal of it has grown very much. I know from talking in dressing rooms over the last years that players are interested in moving out here and playing.

"It's a great place to come and play your football, or your soccer."

Lampard did not speak to former England team-mate and ex-LA Galaxy captain Beckham about MLS.

"The decision was all mine," he insisted.

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