Frank Lampard maximised his potential to become a Premier League legend through sheer hard work and determination.
The Chelsea hero put in 100 per cent effort in every match and training session from a very young age.
However, it hasn’t all been plain-sailing for Lampard, who had his critics and doubters during his early years at West Ham.
Lampard came through the youth ranks at Upton Park before making his senior debut in 1996. The midfielder spent six years with the Hammers, scoring 39 goals in 187 games, before sealing an £11 million move to Chelsea in the summer of 2001.
The former England international would then receive abuse every time he played away at West Ham.
However, one person at West Ham was always convinced that Lampard was a superstar in the making.
Harry Redknapp, Lampard’s uncle and manager of West Ham between 1994-2001, knew his nephew was a special talent.
One classic video from a West Ham Fans Forum in 1996 shows Redknapp defending Lampard, just 18 at the time, when a fan claimed he wasn’t good enough for the first XI.
“I want to ask Harry if he thinks the publicity he’s given to young Frank warrants it because, personally, I don’t think he’s quite good enough yet,” the supporter said to Redknapp, in front of Lampard.
“I also think in the last couple of years you’ve let some good midfielders go for peanuts like Matt Holland and Scott Canham.”
Redknapp responded: “Well, no, they definitely wasn’t good enough. He is good enough and he definitely will be good enough.
“I let Scott Canham go, he was a good kid, he worked very hard. He’s gone to Brentford, he can’t get in Brentford’s team. He’s 21 years of age.
“I let him go because young Frank’s 17/18 and he’s miles in front of him.”
The fan replied: “Well, that ain’t really true…”
Redknapp interjected: “That is true. That’s my opinion. I get paid to make judgments on players.
“Young Matt Holland - yeah, I think he may bounce back and may be First Division, he’s a decent player. And young Scotty Canham’s a decent player, don’t get me wrong. We offered him a two-year contract and he turned it down.
“He didn’t want to stay here. It was his decision to leave the club, I tried my hardest to keep him here. I doubled his wages, gave him a two-year contract and said ‘if you get in the team, you’ll earn good money’.
“I’ll tell you now, without any shadow of a doubt, there will be no comparison between what Frank Lampard will achieve in football and what Scotty Canham will achieve in football.
“There is no favouritism. In fact, I’m probably holding him back more.
“I’m telling you now - and I didn’t want to say this in front of him - but he will go right to the very top. Right to the very top.
“I’ll tell you now: there ain’t no doubt about that, in my opinion, because he’s got everything that’s needed to become a top-class midfield player.”
Video: Redknapp defends Lampard
Watch the incredible footage here…
(Full clip available via VISIONSPORT TV on YouTube)
Redknapp’s prediction was absolutely spot on.
What happened to Scott Canham?
Lampard went on to cement his status as one of the Premier League’s greatest players and Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Canham, on the other hand, played for a couple of clubs in the lower leagues before ending his career in 2007 with Thurrock.
Holland enjoyed a better career, playing for Ipswich and Charlton, but the Republic of Ireland international wasn’t in the same league as Lampard.
Redknapp proved in that moment why managers like himself are paid the big bucks when it comes to judging footballers.
(Credit: The Football Terrace)