After 21 incredible years, I have decided that now is the right time to finish my career as a professional footballer
London: Former Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard on Thursday announced his retirement after more than two decades in football.
Lampard, 38, made his debut in 1995 at West Ham and spent most of his playing career at Chelsea, 2001-2014, finishing as their record goalscorer with 211 goals.
In his time at Stamford Bridge, Lampard won the 2012 Champions League, 2013 Europa League, three Premier Leagues and four FA Cups with the Blues. He earned 106 England caps between 1999 and 2014.
The midfielder last played at New York City in Major League Soccer where his contract expired after the 2016 season, having also featured for Manchester City in the last chapter of his career.
“After 21 incredible years, I have decided that now is the right time to finish my career as a professional footballer,” Lampard said on Facebook.
“Whilst I have received a number of exciting offers to continue playing at home and abroad, at 38 I feel now is the time to begin the next chapter in my life. I’m immensely proud of the trophies I’ve won, of representing my country over 100 times and of scoring more than 300 career goals.”
Lampard, one of just three players to score both 100 goals or more and have more than 100 assists in the Premier League, said he owed a debt of gratitude to all the clubs he played for.
But he saved the biggest thanks for Chelsea, where he played the bulk of his career.
“Chelsea fans gave myself and my team-mates such incredible support,” he said. “Their passion and hunger drove me on personally to give my best year after year. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
One of the very best “box-to-box” midfielders of his generation, Lampard made a habit of arriving late and slamming in goals from outside the area, his tally of 41 goals from outside the box more than anyone in Premier League history. Lampard said it was hard to pin down his favourite goals.
“I scored two on the day against Bolton when we won the league in 2005, I couldn’t choose one over the other,’ he told Chelsea’s website.
“They were both special because they brought the title to Chelsea after 50 years of not winning it. It meant a lot not just to me personally but to the club as a whole.
“After that at Chelsea the goal that broke the goal scoring record at Aston Villa.
“It put me ahead of Bobby Tambling who had held the record for many years, so that was a huge emotional moment for me personally. The away fans were fantastic that day, it was a really special moment.”
Lampard hinted that he may now move into coaching.
“I’m grateful to the FA for the opportunity to study for my coaching qualifications and I look forward to pursuing the off-field opportunities that this decision opens,” he said. — dpa