Lampard aims to emulate Giggs
The future may be far from certain for Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, but he is targeting a few more years at the top. The England midfielder will be 35 in June and his current contract expires at the end of the season, when a decision will be made which sees him stay or go. Lampard has stated his preference to finish his career at Chelsea, but wherever his future lies, he hopes to emulate the longevity of Manchester United stars Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. "I'd love to carry on as long as I feel I can do and I feel I'm fit," Lampard said. "I'd love to do that, for another three or four years. I'd love to emulate those boys. "Ryan Giggs (has) got an aura around him. All the players at the club look up to him. He's the mark." Lampard has even adopted some of Giggs' training methods in recent years, including yoga - "I have to fight myself to do it," Lampard said - in a far cry from his early years at Chelsea. Lampard joined the club from West Ham in 2001 and whether his 12-year spell comes to an end, or is extended, it is appropriate to reflect on a stunning career as a goalscoring midfielder. It is not the first time his Blues career has been uncertain. The arrival of billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich as owner in the summer of 2003 left the existing squad fearful amid the imminent influx of global superstars. Lampard said: "Every summer you thought: 'Blimey, there's more coming in, am I going to play?' "The ones that stayed here were the determined ones and the ones that fought to try to up their level to stay in the team. "The John Terrys of the world, at that time the Eidur Gudjohnsens. We went through that transition and became important players for the Roman era." As he prepared to leave West Ham, Lampard was aware of interest from Manchester United, but insisted he never had a choice to make. Sir Alex Ferguson's departure from Old Trafford, announced this week, could benefit Chelsea, who may once again be managed by Jose Mourinho. Lampard welcomed the possibility of the self-titled Special One's second coming, but is unsure if the Portuguese's arrival would prompt the issuing of a contract extension for himself. Whoever the next boss is, it will be the 10th permanent appointment of Abramovich's reign. While some will criticise the Russian's hiring-and-firing policy, Lampard has nothing but admiration."Roman Abramovich completely transformed the club," Lampard said. "It became a winning club and that was certainly down to him." The Europa League final will be Chelsea's 68th and penultimate competitive game of the season - two friendlies with Manchester City in the United States follow later in May. The congested calendar has allowed Lampard to focus on playing, rather than his own situation. "The easiest part about this season has been playing games, in terms of the speculation," Lampard said. "When you are thinking about it too much at home it becomes more detrimental, but when you're playing and training and want to do well for the team then it's easier." Lampard has had to adjust from being one of the first names on the team sheet, to being part of interim boss Rafael Benitez's rotation policy. Although he has had no guarantees that he will play in Wednesday's Europa League final, Lampard will look to the example of Didier Drogba, whose final act as a Chelsea player was to net the decisive penalty in the Champions League win over Bayern Munich. "Didier handled himself fantastically all last season," Lampard said. "No-one knew his plans. We only knew his plans after the match when he'd done his stuff. "It just goes to show that the football does the talking. And he left an absolute legend, like it should be." Chelsea are at their best with their backs against the wall, Lampard said, but although there are similarities with 12 months ago - an interim boss, for one - Amsterdam will not surpass that heady night when Roberto Di Matteo led the Blues to a first European Cup. "Munich was amazing and the one we've been waiting for for a long time," Lampard said. "I'd like to think we can get near it, but we've got a very tough game to try to do that, with Benfica." Chelsea's season will be judged by the remaining fixtures and Lampard hopes the future, whether he is involved or not, sees the Blues challenging for leading honours once more. "I'd love us to be up there again fighting to win leagues," he said. "One thing we've lacked in the last two or three years has been consistency, league wise. That's what we need to get back."
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