April 30, 2008, the semi-finals of the Champions League; Frank Lampard, still grieving only days after losing his mother to pneumonia, has dispatched the penalty that will take Chelsea into the final at the expense of Liverpool. He points to the heavens then collapses in tears as he is mobbed by his team-mates. It's a moment that tells you everything you need to know about one of the games' modern greats. Frank Lampard: family man, dressing room favourite, but above all, the ultimate professional.
"Lamps" was a product of West Ham's famous youth system and after a loan spell at Swansea City, he made his senior debut for the Hammers in January 1996. His attacking midfield play persuaded Chelsea to launch a successful £11 million bid for him and he made his Blues debut on August 19, 2001. He quickly became a fans' favourite and graduated to the senior England side. Lampard played a starring role in Euro 2004, scoring three goals in four matches and establishing himself as one of the most feared midfielders in the world.
That summer Jose Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge and he was to build his side around a spine of Lampard, Petr Cech, John Terry and Didier Drogba. The 2004-05 season was the third in a row in which Lampard started all 38 league games, on his way to a Premiership record of 164 consecutive appearances for an outfield player. Chelsea were untouchable, romping to the Premiership by a 12-point margin.
The following year saw Chelsea retain the title, while Lampard finished runner-up to Ronaldinho in the prestigious Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player awards. Lampard, already Chelsea's highest-scoring midfielder, then became the eighth player to score 100 goals for the club.
After a period of turmoil Chelsea became a formidable force again under temporary manager Guus Hiddink, winning the FA Cup at Wembley, thoroughly outclassing Everton. Fittingly it was a spectacular Lampard volley that sealed the victory. More medals for the talented Englishman under new manager Carlo Ancelotti seem inevitable.