Frank Lampard has rightly earned a reputation as one of the world’s finest goalscoring midfielders and he will be determined to underline just why at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Lampard came away from his first world showpiece in Germany four years ago with the unwanted statistic of 21 shots on goal but not one of them into the opposition net.
“It’s a fine line,” he noted in his autobiography. Yet Lampard, who also had a penalty saved in the quarter-final shootout loss to Portugal, normally walks it better than most. The Chelsea player has passed the 20-goal mark in each of the last five seasons for his club, a phenomenal scoring rate for a midfielder.
He was England’s joint-second leading marksman in qualifying for South Africa with four goals, two of which – his double in last September’s 5-1 rout of Croatia – took him to 20 for his country.
That Lampard was also an ever-present in England qualifying’s campaign is no surprise. He is one of English football’s most consistent performers, and established a record of 164 successive appearances in the Premier League between 2001 and 2005.
There is no secret to Lampard’s success. He owes his fitness levels to years of hard work that began in boyhood, when his father, former West Ham United defender Frank Lampard Sr. taught him the habit of extra running sessions, or ‘spikes’, each day to improve his speed and stamina.
It was with West Ham that Lampard began his professional career, under the tutelage of his uncle Harry Redknapp, then manager of the east London club. After 187 appearances at Upton Park, he joined Chelsea in June 2001.
Lampard had made his England debut in 1999 but it was not until the 2003/04 campaign that he truly found his feet on the international stage. The Londoner began that season with his first goal for his country in a friendly win over Croatia and he ended it with three in four games at UEFA EURO 2004, where England reached the quarter-finals.
At 26, he was entering his prime. He hit 19 goals for Chelsea in 2004/05 to help them to their first English title for half a century and ended 2005 second only to Ronaldinho in the vote for FIFA World Player of the Year. A second Premier League winner’s medal followed in 2006.
Lampard’s coach at Chelsea at the time, Jose Mourinho, said recently that “he is driven every day to become better” and – as emphasised by his first four-goal haul against Aston Villa in March – Lampard’s standards show no sign of slipping.
The goals he scores are important as well. He hit Chelsea’s equaliser in the UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United – a game they lost on penalties – and in May 2009 struck their FA Cup final winner against Everton. That long-range drive beat Tim Howard, the United States goalkeeper he will face in England’s opening game in South Africa. A repeat in Rustenburg would mark the perfect start to his second FIFA World Cup.