‘I had multiple incredible nights in the Champions League’: Frank Lampard looking to relive past European glories as Chelsea boss
- Lampard had captained Chelsea as the club won the Champions League in 2012
- The Blues boss also experienced a bad memory after 2008 loss to Man United
- Lampard also recalled scoring his late penalty that sent Chelsea to that final
- His goal came in his first appearance since the death of his beloved mother Pat
Ahead of the next landmark in his fledgling career as a manager, his first time in charge for a Champions League match, the full range of memories have come flooding back for Frank Lampard.
The Miracle in Munich will top the lengthy list of good ones, the May night in 2012 when Lampard captained Chelsea as they won club football’s biggest trophy for the first time.
Among the bad memories will be that miserable 2008 night when Chelsea’s Champions League dream was washed away in the Moscow rain and they suffered the pain of defeat in a penalty shootout to Manchester United after a titanic 120-minute tussle.
Frank Lampard recalled scoring the emotional late penalty that sent Chelsea to the 2008 final
Ahead of Tuesday’s opening game in Group H against Valenica at Stamford Bridge, Lampard has been reminded of what he says was ‘without doubt’ the most emotional occasion of his career.
In April 2008, Lampard showed huge courage just to play in Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final against Liverpool, and then step up and score the extra-time penalty that helped send them into the all-Premier League final.
Because that night, Lampard was making his first appearance since the death the previous week of his beloved mum, Pat.
His goal was followed by powerful and moving celebrations, on the pitch and in the stands, as his team-mates rallied round him in support.
Understandably, Lampard appeared visibly moved as he recalled the occasion yesterday. ‘A very emotional night on a personal level,’ he said. ‘I didn’t need an extra bond with the Chelsea fans and the club, but what happened on that night and with the fans in the stadium, on such a huge game for the club, it is something that kicked everything on about how I feel about this club.
Ahead of the Valencia clash, a range of memories have come flooding back for Frank Lampard
CHRIS SUTTON ON CHELSEA
As a striker, you go through plenty of droughts. So when you are in a purple patch, when you are scoring for fun, you do not want anything to stop it. All you care about is keeping that golden run going. You are energised. You wish you could play a game every day.
Tammy Abraham is going through that right now and he will want to start against Valencia tonight. The 21-year-old has seven goals in his last three games. His third to complete his hat-trick against Wolves at the weekend showed his level of confidence, as he pushed the ball past Conor Coady then scored.
Abraham will not want his rhythm to be broken. He will not want to be dropped and I do not think he should be. Michy Batshuayi will also be itching to start, of course. He spent part of last season on loan at Valencia and will know his opponents well.
Then there is Olivier Giroud, a striker with plenty of Champions League experience. The decision on who starts up front ultimately rests with Frank Lampard.
He will know his players best and Chelsea’s sports scientists will know where Abraham is fitness-wise. But he will want to play and I say keep him in.
SCORE PREDICTION — Chelsea to win 1-0
‘That is maybe the magic of the Champions League.
‘I will be proud to manage in the Champions League for the first time. I had multiple incredible nights in the Champions League, and some bad ones, but it is the ultimate in club football for me.
‘There is something about nights at Stamford Bridge, something about the Champions League music and I want to experience it on this side of the fence.
‘I will be proud to take the team out, of course. But what matters is the result, what matters is starting the group well against tough opposition. I am excited.’
Having played 105 Champions League games, Lampard has plenty of wisdom to pass on to his players, some of whom will be making their debuts in the competition.
The need for even greater levels of concentration and focus will be emphasised in his pre-match meeting.
Circumstances dictate that expectations of Chelsea in the Champions League this season are not as high as in previous campaigns. Lampard’s first target is to get out of what he calls a ‘tough group’ that also contains Lille and last year’s semi-finalists, Ajax.
He says that he hopes his team will ‘blossom in the Champions League as we go along’. Regardless of any inexperience, goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga said: ‘We’ve been waiting for this a long time.
‘We spent all of last year trying to qualify. We are very enthusiastic. We’re going to play with energy, to push and we’re going to try to attack the opposition.’
Valencia are a club in turmoil, following the sacking of manager Marcelino Garcia Toral last week.
Chelsea will be hoping to capitalise on Valencia’s current woes after Marcelino’s sacking
Their players are staging a silent protest as a result, boycotting media duties. They were hammered 5-2 by Barcelona on Saturday.
But, perhaps recalling his time as a Chelsea player, a wary Lampard said: ‘My experience of moments like this is that when there is an issue as a collective group of a team against the media, the outside world, generally it makes a group tighter as players.
‘Sometimes it can be a positive as much as a negative on the pitch.’