Being Frank has never been so hard

The Chelsea midfielder has endured an awful year off the pitch but he tells Glenn Moore how the heartache has inspired him to produce his best form

In many ways this has been a season to forget for Frank Lampard. He went into it without the support of his mother, Pat, to whom he was very close prior to her death in April 2008. He also suffered the break-up of his relationship to Elen Rives, mother of his two young daughters. The pain of that was revealed last month when he rang a radio station to excoriate the presenter for calling him "weak" and "scum" following a tabloid newspaper story that alleged he was not adequately accommodating his children.

Lampard vehemently denied this and explained that while Rives was living in a flat while he bought a house for her, they shared custody. "I wake up if my kids wake up at three in the morning, if they wake up at six in the morning, regardless of whether there is a football match or not," Lampard says. He adds, of the days they stay with their mother: "The hardest part of this break-up is not waking up with my kids every day."

There has been instability in his working life, too. Chelsea have stumbled from manager to manager, drifted off the pace in the Premier League and followed the penalty shoot-out defeat in last season's Champions League final with a controversial exit in this season's semi-finals.

Yet, through all this turmoil, on and off the pitch, and despite the 3am wake-up calls, Lampard has performed superbly. For Chelsea he has scored 19 goals and made another 16. He has also returned to form for England. Indeed, he has played better than when he was voted Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year in 2005.

Lampard feels so. "Running out, I feel on top of my game," he says. "I'm 30 years of age and the experience I have gained makes me feel a better player than at any time in my career."

Wider recognition has, though, eluded him because of Chelsea's stuttering season. "I got the Chelsea Player of the Year, which I am always proud to get from the people who watch week-in week-out," he says. "Maybe the acclaim has not been there but quite rightly this season Manchester United players have dominated. That's fair, there have been some great performances from them. All I have done is try and play as well as I can."

He adds, in reference to the season's difficult personal context: "One of the fortunate things of being a player is that the adrenalin of going out and playing football is like the get-out sometimes from a lot of things outside. I get an adrenalin rush out of training as well as playing, so this season has been great for me in those terms even though we haven't won anything."

That qualifying clause could be made obsolete tomorrow afternoon. The FA Cup may no longer be as significant to Chelsea as when they won it in 1970 or 1997, but, says Lampard: "FA Cup final days have always been special. I know people get focused in other directions but once you get this far, and you are playing at Wembley, with the huge occasion that it is, not only for your own fans but worldwide, it will always be a massive event.

"It's very important to win. In recent years success has been something expected here, rightly so with the investment in the squad and the players we've got. So it's very important for confidence, for the club and the fans, to take something away from this season. Then we can re-evaluate in the summer and look to go full steam ahead next season.

"Going two years without a trophy is hard when you know how special winning is, but as you become older you realise you are not going to win everything. Standing on the Wembley pitch knowing we were not going to the Euros [with England], losing on penalties to Man United [in the Champions League final last year], they are horrible occasions in sport. They stick in the back of your mind. But you have to use them as a positive and I think we all do that now. It can make it a bit sweeter if you have lost things. Hopefully one day when we lift the Champions League the feeling will be that bit more special."

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker