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JEFF POWELL: Why don't fans hail the genius that is Frank Lampard?
Published : 05 Jun 2009 23:03:08
Shortly before England flew to Kazakhstan for today's World Cup qualifier, The Frank Lampard Appreciation Society held its annual meeting in a phone box.Me and his Dad. Well, if not quite all the members then two of the three founders of this exclusive club. The third? Bobby Moore sent his apologies for absence. Totally Frank: Lampard, preparing to come up against World Cup qualifying opponents Kazakhstan in Almaty, is fulfilling predictions of enjoying a glittering career for both club and country No-one would have been more delighted than England's only WorldCup-winning captain had he lived to see the son of one of his bestmates fulfill his prediction of a glittering career with club andcountry. Not only that but like Moore who made World Cup history forEngland after playing the full 90 minutes in almost 70 games for WestHam in the 1965-66 season Lampard is itching to pull on the whiteshirt in Kazakhstan and then once more against Andorra at Wembley onWednesday, even though these matches are virtual left-overs from amarathon campaign with Chelsea. More from Jeff Powell... Klitschko outraged as Haye backs out of world title clash03/06/09 JEFF POWELL: What will it take for football to rank Chelsea star Frank?31/05/09 JEFF POWELL: Don't let them tell you the FA Cup Final is no big deal29/05/09 JEFF POWELL: United will rise again as Fergie remains faithful to Busby ethos27/05/09 Jeff Powell's top 10 European Cup final nights: Real Madrid 7 Eintracht Frankfurt 326/05/09 JEFF POWELL: How Meester Tel began the rebirth of Barcelona26/05/09 Jeff Powell's top 10 European Cup final nights: Manchester United 4 Benfica 126/05/09 Jeff Powell's top 10 European Cup final nights: Liverpool 3 AC Milan 324/05/09 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE As for Frank Sr, he sees 'a lot of Mooro in my lad'. Perversely, that could explain why young Frank may not be given thewider admiration he deserves until after he has left the stage. Moore was not considered for the knighthood which should have beenhis by right before it was too late. Then it took until Wembley wasrebuilt, over a decade after his death, for his statue to be erected onthe site where the pre-eminent footballer in the annals of our nationalgame led England to its greatest sporting triumph. As Lampard Jr took one of his turns at gracing Wembley lastSaturday, scoring Chelsea's magnificent FA Cup Final winner against Everton, his father remembered something said to him about Bobby Mooreby their late West Ham manager, Ron Greenwood. It was this: 'Not everyone understands that simplicity is genius.' 'That,' says Lampard Sr, 'helps explain why some people don't getyoung Frank. In so many ways, even though he doesn't play in the samepositon at the back, he is the Bobby Moore of the present day.Sometimes, when you make things look easy, you don't get noticed.' So it was in the eyes of many on Saturday. While they could hardlymiss the brilliance of the goal, they overlooked the way he dominatedthe match from midfield. When Chelsea conceded the fastest goal in CupFinal history, to Louis Saha, it was Lampard who demanded the ball andurged his team to put that setback behind them. Not only did he unlock Chelsea's path to Didier Drogba's equaliserand then score the winner but he attempted more passes, 76, with ahigher success rate, 63, than any other player on that cloying turf. Just like Bobby: Lampard Snr sees a lot of Moore (left) in his son Frank Says his father: 'He may not be as flamboyant as the likes of StevieGerrard but the numbers suggest he contributes even more to the team.' So they do. Not only has Lampard scored 20 goals in each of the lastfour seasons - and 19 the year before that - but Premier League figuresreveal that he is off the graph above Gerrard this season with 2560passes. More tellingly, when it comes to the key passes which triggerpenetrating attacks and attempts on goal, Lampard's 124 are 44 morethan Liverpool's new - and in many ways deserving - Footballer of theYear. Furthermore, as evidence of his phenomenal, end-to-end work-rate,he is joint leader with Cristiano Ronaldo among nominal midfieldplayers with 57 shots on target.. Not that statistics ever tell the fully story. Lampard's characterpervades even more than his unselfishness as a a team player. Forexample, he keeps his head when all about him - not least Drogba,Boswinga, Ballack and Cap'n Terry - were losing theirs quitedisgracefully as Chelsea went out to Barcelona in the Champions Leaguesemi final. His father watched how he conducted himself that night and says: 'Iadmired his restraint in a difficult moment. And it was exactly howMooro would have behaved. With dignity. Trying to restore order.' Frank Jr is also desperate to play every game. To that end he keepshimself in prime physical condition. Hence he was somewhat less thandelighted when Guus Hiddink left him out of Chelsea's irrelevant lastmatch of the Premier League season, at Sunderland, thereby spoiling his 100per cent appearance record so as to keep him fresh for the Cup Final. 'He always wants to play all the games,' says Frank Sr. 'On top of that he was still one short of his 20 goal target for theseason. As it happened it worked out perfectly with the winner atWembley.' Family jig: Lamaprd toasted his match-winning FA Cup final strike against Everton by reprising a celebration made memorable by his Dad, Frank Snr That strike also enabled Lampard to reprise the jig around a cornerflag with which his father, an England international in his own right,celebrated his FA Cup semi-final winner for West Ham against Everton in1980. 'He surprised me with that,' says Lampard Sr. 'My little dance was the last thing I would have expected him tohave on his mind at a moment like that, with everyone going crazy. Butthen he is cool like Mooro. 'Of course they met a few times with me when young Frank was a kid.And Bobby saw him play at West Ham and believed he would do well. ButFrank's even got some of the same mannerisms off the pitch. It's a bitspooky, really.' As weird, in its way, as the general public's under-reaction to a great English footballer. They seem not to understand that simplicity is genius. They don't get Frank Lampard. Their loss. JEFF POWELL: What will it take for football to rank Chelsea star Frank?Maturing Lampard has change of heart and may follow uncle Harry Redknapp into managementWe want the lot: Lampard confident Carlo's Chelsea can dominate at home and abroad