After a year-long hiatus from coaching, Frank Lampard returned to the dugout last month after he was appointed as the new Everton manager.
The former Chelsea legend started his managerial career in 2018, guiding Derby County to the 2018/19 Championship play-off final, where the Rams were beaten by Aston Villa 2-1.
Later that summer, he would leave Derby and reunite with the Blues but was given the tall order of building a squad of players during a transfer embargo in only his first Premier League managerial appointment.
While he was welcomed back to the club with open arms from the Chelsea fanbase, it would ultimately turn out to be a bitter ending for the club legend.
With Chelsea dropping to ninth in the league, the 43-year-old was sacked at the end of January 2021 after he failed to satisfy Russian owner Roman Abramovich’s desire to close the gap between the club and the league leaders.
It was a tough time for the man who lives and bleeds Chelsea and truly epitomises the brutality of the football business.
For any coach, a sacking is a difficult thing to take, but Lampard’s emotional attachment to the club he made 648 appearances for perhaps made the news even tougher for him.
That was further compounded when he watched the side he had built go on lift the Champions League trophy the same season.
But while many would be bitter about the sacking, Lampard showed his class in an interview with Gary Lineker ahead of the 2021 FA Cup final, where his former club were defeated by Leicester City 1-0.
Looking back at his time in charge, Lampard spoke candidly and selflessly about his departure, admitting that while it wasn’t nice to leave, the club’s success and the development of some of the younger players was also very important to him.
“Obviously, you never want to lose a job,” Lampard said to the BBC commentary team.
“I’m in pretty good company at Chelsea. It happens. It’s the brutal reality of football at the top level.
“I’m pretty proud of the job I did. It was an honour to manage the club. I came in at a tough time with the ban and the loss of Eden Hazard and worked really hard in year one to get into the Champions League.
“Mason [Mount] and people like that, developing the younger players was a huge thing.”
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Re-establishing the link between the Chelsea academy ranks and the first team at Stamford Bridge, Lampard worked wonders to lay the foundations that would allow the south London club to go on to win the Champions League in 2021.
And while he didn’t see his side’s success through to the end, like a proud father, he admitted he was full of pride of how well some of his younger stars like Mount and Reece James had performed during the season.
Take a look at the interview in the video below…
Lineker asks him: “You must have had real mixed emotions watching them win the Champions League, Frank?”
Lampard replies: “Yeah, I mean when you work towards something, you want to be there, and you want to be the manager. I’m never going to try and lay claim on that.
“I was part of the early foundation, potentially, but Thomas did a fantastic job of getting there.
“But what I will say when I watched it is firstly, I’m a Chelsea person and Chelsea fans are happy. The club deserves that.
“Secondly, to see Mason and Reece perform at that level. People like [Edouard] Mendy and [Ben] Chilwell and Thiago [Silva] who came in during my time there makes me pretty proud.”
All of Mendy, Mount, Chilwell, and James have gone on to become world-class players over the last two seasons, but some of their success can be credited back to Lampard.
If the ex-Blues boss can do the same and bring some new talent through the ranks at Everton, he will be a much-admired figure at Goodison Park.