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Jamie Redknapp on Frank Lampard: We started out using grandad's back yard

08 Oct 2009 07:57:42

Jamie Redknapp on Frank Lampard: We started out using grandad's back yard

England v Belgium on October 10, 1999, was a long way from the back garden in Bournemouth where we would try to hit grandad's wooden bird cage before going in for our tea. And that's literally speaking, because the game was played that Sunday afternoon at Sunderland's Stadium of Light. The match was special for our family because Frank Lampard, my cousin, made his England debut 10 years ago this Saturday and I was there next to him. Family affair: Jamie Redknapp lines up next to cousin Frank Lampard for his England debut at the Stadium of Light on October 10, 1999 I enjoyed my best memory in an England shirt - scoring the winner with a left-footed screamer into the top right-hand corner. If an ex-player tells you he doesn't like looking at his old showreel, don't believe him. I still enjoy seeing that one now on YouTube. The whole day was a bit special for me. Well, most of it. VIDEO: Jamie's wonder goal... England were wearing red shirts, just like Bobby Moore's World Cupwinning kit. My parents and Frank's mum and dad were sitting together, but we didn't know until the morning that we were both starting. So it meant grandad Harry didn't make the journey up from the south coast. Middle class: Lampard looks comfortable in possession during his debut against Belgium Overnight, England had qualified for the Euro 2000 play-offs courtesyof Sweden's result against Poland on the Saturday. The qualificationprogramme hadn't been plain sailing. A Henrik Larsson-inspired Swedenwalked the group, we squeezed through in second, with a play-off doubleheader against Scotland to follow. Kevin Keegan's unbeaten, if unspectacular, start as manager would continue with a 2-1 win in this friendly. It was an historic selection, because Frank's appearance brought tothree the number of father and son pairings to have been picked forEngland. After the Easthams and the Cloughs, we now had the Lampards. The two of us did all right in a three-man midfield, with myLiverpool team-mate, Paul Ince, in the holding role and Frank and Igiven licence to go and play. We put in 7/10 performances. The biggest disappointment was Keegan criticising us both publicly after the game. 'It was a great start and you think, "Let's go and play", but for the first time I had to get angry with a few players,' he said. 'The two I got into were Redknapp and Lampard. They responded really well so maybe I should get angry again. 'We were trying to play the Continental way again instead of getting at them. When we go away from that English will to win a ball we lose something.' All good, Kevin. Apart from the fact that I don't remember that. The half-time screaming match didn't take place. There were some words exchanged with quite a few players, but it was nothing memorable and certainly not solely aimed at us. I couldn't believe the back pages the next day. On the way out of the ground, reporters emerged from the manager'spress conference to ask us both about the so-called flare-up withKeegan. We were confused! Frank and I spoke about it on the way down southby telephone. It didn't spoil the day, but it was unnecessary. Whateverwas said should have stayed in the dressing room. I did not see theneed for Keegan to say that. It took the gloss of the day. Englandplayed with three central defenders: Tony Adams, Martin Keown andGareth Southgate as part of a 3-5-2 formation. The idea was to get thewing-backs, Kieron Dyer and Steve Guppy, up and around the outside.   Dyer,just 20, was a flying machine, while Guppy had the sweetest left foot.He had started his working life on a building site, so to make hisEngland debut was a fabulous achievement, having come through thenon-league scene. Guppy, now assistant coach at Colorado Rapids in the MLS, is still the only player to have represented England at semi-professional, Under 21, B team and full senior international level. Alan Shearer scored the first goal and there were other familiar names such as Michael Owen, David Seaman, Phil Neville, Dennis Wise and Emile Heskey around the squad. David Beckham had withdrawn with a hamstring injury. It wasn't the most fluid performance, but the triangle in midfield suited us and we won. I'm not saying the pair of us were world beaters that afternoon, but we did enough to beat Belgium. And, apart from family kickarounds, it was the first time we had played together. I was at Liverpool, Frank was at West Ham. Partnerships all across the pitch are developed over time. We'd watched each other, supported each other, but this was a senior England international and it was a decent effort. Frank was 21, five years younger than me, and it was his first game for England.   Frank was an up-and-coming player. It's hard when you first come into an England squad and you take a look around the dining room or the practice ground and see so many established names. It takes at least 10 games to feel you belong. Frank was another one off the production line at West Ham, where mydad, Harry, was eager to promote local players from Tony Carr'sacademy. Frank could play the 'West Ham way', with his head up,comfortable with both feet and an eye for goal. Budding superstar: Frank shows poise on the ball as a four-year-old He was an emerging player, nothing like the powerhouse we see now in the Barclays Premier League. He wasn't bossing games, he was in and out of matches, but his work on his stamina was beginning to show. When training finished, the younger lads at West Ham would take off but Frank would go over to the far corner of the training ground at Chadwell Heath and run and run. The trains heading from London to Romford around lunchtime would be rattling past and the view from the carriages was of pitches deserted except for one young man doing his distance work. Frank would run for hours, with his dad driving him on. He sure has his rewards now. When I played against him in those days, he would score the odd goal, but he didn't dominate games. He was at West Ham, my dad was the manager and there was all sorts of nonsense about nepotism from some in the crowd. How stupid must those fans feel now when they look at Frank? He's one of the best midfielders in the world.   When I watched him and played against him in the years that followed, he would run me all over the pitch. I can remember feeling knackered later in a game and thinking, 'Just have a breather, leave him alone this time once won't hurt'. You can guess what happened. Bang. He's in on goal and he doesn't rush or panic when he sees the chance. Playing against him as a rival midfielder was like suffering a slow death. You'd try to match him, track him, keep up with him. Maybe at the start you might be OK, get to the ball first, close down his space. Then try and get the ball and begin to play. 'I'm winning this match-up.' Then, another moment switching off and he's into your back four and you're catching your breath.   I'm surprised more managers don't man-mark Frank in the final third because how many times do we see him arriving late, timing his run, breaking off the holding player and then scoring? He's a 20-goals-a-season midfielder. No favours: Lampard beats Redknapp in the air during a clash between Chelsea and Tottenham With England, it's 74 caps and 20 goals. For Chelsea, it's 84 League goals in 292 games. That's quite something. But his assists, his passing around the corner and the weight of his deliveries are also on the increase. He is an all-rounder. If you built a robot footballer, Frank would be a good prototype; big, powerful, strong, athletic and scores goals. He looks to be enjoying his football with England again and that can only be good news in a World Cup season. Unusually, he has scored more times for England this season than he has for Chelsea. Like Steven Gerrard, he is enjoying playing for Fabio Capello, who has discovered a system to suit them both. How do you get your two best midfielders to play well together? Capello, unlike his successors, has the answer. And that is one of the reasons England stand at played seven, won seven in this group. Don't underestimate, either, Frank's mental strength and his desire. They are great assets. Criticism is water off a duck's back. He's come a long way since Sunderland on a sunny day a decade ago.  Ukraine v England live! Sign up to watch the match with MailOnlineMARTIN SAMUEL: Thanks to Fabio, we don't need to watch from behind sofaSeven reasons why the Premier League season has started with a bangTerry: I will have failed if I don't win the Champions League with ChelseaCHELSEA FC


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