Lampard: don't compare England with Team GB


It is the international friendly no club wanted to be played and football is the sport that is getting it in the neck for failing to live up to the spirit of Team GB, the nation's new sporting sweethearts. Of all the England teams over all the years, and Frank Lampard had to walk into this one as captain.

Lampard, 34, right, is one of the few senior players who has been cleared to play in this pre-season friendly three days before the start of the Premier League season, due in no small measure to him having missed Euro 2012 with injury. Tonight at the Wankdorf Stadium he will captain a depleted England team against Italy knowing that at best there will be a great deal of indifference back home.

The question of Team GB versus England's multi-millionaire Premier League footballers, and their relative merits as sporting role-models, is the hot debate, however simplistically it has been approached on occasions. Lampard was at the Olympic Stadium to see the Jamaican Usain Bolt win the 200 metres last Thursday, a guest of Lord Coe, and he recognises that footballers are on a hiding to nothing.

But he was not about to accept that English footballers, including those who enjoy the rewards at the very top, should take all the blame for their beleaguered position and he had a point.

Lampard said: "It's natural to compare. As I said, we all have failings. All the competitors, the Olympians, particularly Team GB, performed very well and in a very sportsmanlike way. Football and the Olympics are different things. The atmosphere at football is different completely. Sometimes things are shouted from the outside, the atmosphere is more hostile. It all ends up on and off the pitch.

"I think we can probably learn generally from the Olympics. I think we all love football for what it is. If you took that away... I enjoyed going to the Olympics and feeling that atmosphere, and I think it works well. That's what the Olympics is all about. In football, we're all born with our allegiances. It becomes almost a religion for the people who watch it, so we probably take ups and downs in different ways: the ups are great, the downs are different. That's the beauty of the game, to a point."

Roy Hodgson would later say that he had spoken to his players about the importance of representing their country in the right fashion, with Team GB in mind. But this is not a team running in fear from public opinion, nor should it be. They have been through enough lows in their relationship with the English sporting public to know that good results can change the mood.

Of course, it's only natural to compare, but football and Olympics are different things