Jose Mourinho believes Frank Lampard deserves to have won the Ballon d'Or in his career.
Lampard has established himself as a Chelsea legend since joining the club in 2001, and surpassed Bobby Tambling's all-time goal scoring record last season.
The closest the England midfielder ever came to scooping the prestigious prize was in 2005, when he finished runner up to Barcelona star Ronaldinho - the year that Liverpool controversially eliminated Chelsea from the Champions League.
Mourinho, now in his second spell at Stamford Bridge after quitting in 2007, believes that if Chelsea had not been knocked out by Luis Garcia's "ghost-goal", Lampard would have been crowned the best player in the world.
In a serialisation of Mike Carson's book, The Manager,in the Telegraph, Mourinho said: "That season [2004-05] was a season for them to say, 'We are the best in this country', and it was the season for me to say: 'I'm not just very good in Portugal, I'm also very good here.'
"So it was like an explosion of motivation on both sides.
"I remember saying clearly to Frank Lampard: 'You are one of the best players in the world, but nobody knows.'
"In one of the seasons Frank was a finalist in what is now the Ballon d'Or, and I think he didn't win because he was not a European champion.
"Between 2004 and 2007 he became, for sure, one of the best players in the world. So we motivate people also with individual challenges, and for him, for sure, that was a challenge we put there and he understood and he was ready for it.
"If Frank's 2012 Champions League win had come before, he would have been voted the best."
Now back at Chelsea after spells with Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Mourinho has worked with some of the best players in the world, and says he thrives when working with the biggest names. The Blues have been linked with a move for Wayne Rooney this summer.
"I have never had a problem with working with that special talent - never," he explained.
"And I never understood when people say that it is a problem, or you can have a special talent but not two or three or four. I want 11 special talents in my team
"Maybe I was lucky, maybe I wasn't, but it was never a problem. The toughest thing is when you don't have talent in your squad."
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