Victory would crown Lampard as the king of Stamford Bridge


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The Independent Online

It is one of the signings of the Premier League era, one that ranks up there with the acquisition of Thierry Henry by Arsenal or Roy Keane by Manchester United. For all the money that has been thrown around by Roman Abramovich in the last nine years, Chelsea have probably never spent a better £11m than that which they paid for Frank Lampard almost exactly 11 years ago.

It is one thing to make a brilliant signing who turns into a key figure in the life of a team, it is another to acquire arguably the greatest player in the club's history. Chelsea have Peter Osgood, Gianfranco Zola and, of course, John Terry but if it is Lampard who raises the European Cup above his head at close to midnight in Munich tomorrow it will be hard to disagree that he is Chelsea's best ever.

"Even if we don't win it, I'd have no regrets looking back," Lampard said this week. "I'm very pleased and proud of the career I've had here. I've been very lucky to be at a great club and win a lot of things. But in terms of the full set on the table, it would be just that. You can't hide from that."

Without the suspended Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles, and with injury concerns over Florent Malouda, the match is a tall order for Chelsea. "[To win it] would be the greatest achievement," Lampard added. "We have four players out who have been some of our best performers of the season. It would be a huge achievement."

The 3-1 Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat in Naples on 21 February was a low point for the club, but particularly for Lampard who was left on the bench. Watching that night, could he have imagined that in little less than three months he would be contemplating potentially his greatest night ever as a Chelsea player?

"Maybe it was one of the lower times. But you learn through these things. I sat back at times and got the hump indoors but I tried to carry on working hard and in the end it has turned around personally; but not quite to the full extent yet."

There is much at stake for Chelsea tomorrow but who would have thought, 11 years ago, he would have ended up here?

Four years after he joined Chelsea, he was named the second-best player in the world by Fifa. Winning tomorrow would top it all.