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."

Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam