At 35 years of age, most footballers know that they are in the final stages of their playing careers and as such they begrudgingly accept a radically reduced role at their respective clubs. This does not seem to be the case for Chelsea star Frank Lampard, however.
While many had expected Lampard's considerable influence to wane as he approaches the twilight of his career, the midfielder appears to be showing no sign of slowing down and his sheer importance to not only his club but also to his country is arguably more crucial now than ever before.
As Lampard prepares to become England's eighth centurion during England's vital but potentially tricky World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in Kiev on Tuesday evening, his value to the Three Lions remains unquestionable.
Although he will perhaps always be rather unfairly lumbered with the tag of one of the most prominent members of England's so-called 'Golden Generation' who ultimately failed to fulfill their rather substantial potential, Lampard has been a fine servant for his country and his role in the current setup is quite clear.
As England look to head into a new and wholly uncertain direction following the disintegration of that aforementioned generation, current manager Roy Hodgson is depending upon all of his experienced combatants to safely guide an otherwise youthful squad to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
In particular, Hodgson is evidently relying upon Lampard and captain Steven Gerrard to act as the elder statesmen of the group and to ensure that talented but largely untested young talents such as Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley and Ross Barkley are able to cope with the significant challenges and perils that can often arise following exposure to the international game.
Such reliance was clearly in evidence during the convincing 4-0 victory over Moldova at Wembley on Friday night. With many alternative midfield options at his disposal, Hodgson deployed his two most-trusted lieutenants, who were once lambasted by fans and pundits alike for their seeming inability to sufficiently compliment each other's games, slightly deeper in a midfield selection intended to allow Wilshere the freedom to fully display his superb talent. Lampard's experience of big matches with England is likely to be crucial once more in Kiev as England look to avoid defeat against Mykhalo Fomenko's side.
As well as still enjoying a prominent role in international football, Lampard also remains an absolutely critical member of Chelsea's first-team squad at club level. An undoubted favourite of returning boss Jose Mourinho due to his unwavering commitment and reliability during the Portuguese's successful first stint at Stamford Bridge, Lampard will look to guide the Blues once more as they look to mount a credible title bid.
With the summer signings of Willian, Marco van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle joining the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Ramires in West London, Chelsea certainly have an embarrassment of riches in the midfield area. While he certainly can't match a number of his teammates for vitality or even flair, Lampard, who is Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer with 203, will use his experience and considerable savvy to ensure that the team remain tight as a solid unit and are successful in implementing Mourinho's tough brand of football.
In reality, he must surely only have approximately two or perhaps even three seasons left of top-level competition. But despite that, while Lampard remains fit and still retains that trademark hunger and commendable work ethic that should be used as an example to young footballers up and down the nation, he remains integral to the hopes of his club and his country.
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