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 & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit