Frank Lampard isn't your typical footballer. He's a published author and the proud owner of 11 A's at GCSE, which puts him streets ahead of pretty much everyone in the world of football for a start.
At 36-years-old, he's seen more than his fair share of things too; he's won countless trophies, travelled the world, suffered heartache and been related to Harry Redknapp for all his life, so it's probably a fair enough assessment to say he's a worldy chap.
So it was with a heavy heart the world watched him expertly guide the ball into the back of the net against Chelsea for new club Manchester City yesterday. And then, nothing. Nothing happened.
Lampard emerged from the subs bench to latch onto a James Milner cross, levelling up the scores at the Etihad Stadium with just a few minutes to go. But there was nothing. If anything, Lampard looked heartbroken that he had the temerity to score against a side that cast him aside over the summer.
You all know the story by now. Lampard spent 13 years with Chelsea, and is the club's all-time greatest goal scorer. But he's more to Chelsea than just statistics. He, along with John Terry and Didier Drogba, are representative of the 'new Chelsea' in the Roman Abramovich era. They represent success, determination and silverware in equal measures.
Not that it held much sway with Jose Mourinho. He, along with the various other bigwigs at Chelsea, let him walk away for nothing at the end of his contract. The 'Special One' then had the cheek to say that when Lampard signed for a rival in Manchester City, that it marked then end of the 'love affair'.
Now, Mourinho was well within his right to let Lampard go; there's little room for sentiment at the top and, so far at least, he's been entirely vindicated. That's just football.
But equally, that should mean that Lampard is free to celebrate his goal on Sunday as he would any other goal he's scored in his long and illustrious career. His emotional connection with Chelsea is obvious, but to fight against a natural reaction over some misguided attempt to appease his former fans seems foolhardy.
Are Chelsea supporters really likely to be offended if he allows himself a little fist pump to demonstrate that he's happy to show Manchester City that he was worth the punt they took, and also to show Mourinho was he's missing? Of course not.
Indeed if he was really that bothered about offending Chelsea fans then he shouldn't have scored the goal or joined Manchester City in the first place. It's not like he denied Chelsea the chance of a trophy in a cup final either - they would have taken a 1-1 draw beforehand and they are still five points clear of City - it was an early season, tense affair between two title rivals. By the time any serious damage can be done Lampard will be long gone. So seriously, what harm could a celebration really do?
If anything Chelsea fans would be well within their rights to feel a little patronised by the whole affair - as if they are unable to deal with the emotion of seeing a man they used to worship score against them. Football fans often get painted in a bad light, but they are at least able to process the thought that when he was snubbed by Mourinho, they didn't have a leg to stand on when it came to them playing against him. It's just the class of the man himself that bought this whole issue around in the first place.
The fact is when he completed his short term switch to the Citizens there was hardly a word from Chelsea supporters, because regardless of what he does between now and the end of his loan spell, nothing could tarnish his immaculate legacy in west London.
Of course Lampard's heart was in the right place, and he looked genuinely shellshocked afterwards because of his connection with the club. But there's no denying he would have enjoyed scoring that goal simply because of the way his time at the club came to an end - something confirmed by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp afterwards.
And the fact is that more and more players are refusing to celebrate against former clubs, even when they don't have such strong connections with their former employers. Romelu Lukaku didn't celebrate against West Brom after his loan spell at the Hawthorns for crying out loud. When did this craze start, and can it please end?
In any case, it is surely better to see someone like Emmanuel Adebayor run the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of Arsenal fans than to see a pious ex-player humbly walk away after finding the back of the net? The former may not be the most becoming of things, but at least it's a real reaction, and not one synthesised so as to look genuine for the cameras.
The fact of the matter is that in the world of football, there is no higher praise than that reserved for those who pull off a 'class act' - for some reason there's a heightened sense of immature morality when it comes to scoring against a former side. Be real, footballers should feel free to celebrate whenever they score; after all, it's one of the great joys of the game.
So next time you are watching your side in action and you see a former player lining up for the opposition, don't boo if they score. You're only forcing them to fight against the very nature of football. And you won't want them to do that now, would you?
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