England v Chile: Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard honoured by link to England's 1966 World Cup heroes
The midfielder will captain the side in tonight's game
Frank Lampard is in the gold watch, or more accurately cap, stage of his long career. The 35-year-old's legs are going but there is, he believes, just enough left in the pistons to get him across the line in Brazil. Against Chile he is honoured with the captaincy to mark his entry three matches ago into England's elite 100 club, as well as the presentation by World Cup-winner Sir Geoff Hurst of a golden lid.
Lampard joked that he would call time on his 14-year international career on the spot were England to bridge the generations with victory on 13 July 2014. Don't laugh. Fanciful though that notion might be, it would make tangible a connection Lampard has felt to the World Cup since the infant years growing up in the West Ham bubble.
Lampard was raised by father Frank, who will join him and daughters Luna and Isla on the Wembley pitch for the presentation, on tales of the Upton Park nobility, of Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff winning the Jules Rimet Trophy, with a little help from their friends, for their country.
It was thought that Lampard and the "golden generation" to which he belonged might one day emulate their forebears. Still we wait. But dreams cost nothing and Lamps has his.
"It's funny, I don't really remember, but the manager [Roy Hodgson] was saying there were a lot of ups and downs en route to winning that tournament [in 1966]. I wasn't aware of that. The manager and certain players took a bit of stick in the build-up to that final, so nothing's changed." Smiles all round.
"I was fortunate enough to get quite close to Bobby Moore when he was alive and Sir Geoff and Martin Peters, all West Ham players who carried themselves so well and wore the fact they were World Cup-winners very well.
"That's something I always looked up to with great respect. That's why I was pleased when the FA wanted Sir Geoff to be involved [in the cap presentation] because of that link. And my dad knowing him and what an England hero he is. We can only use that as an inspiration.
"We know England haven't won anything of any note for a very long time, but there's no point looking back on failure. We have to look at the positives and the inspirations. Sir Geoff is one of those."
Lampard, in his troubled playing relationship with Steven Gerrard, has come to characterise England's tournament failings. Fine player though he has been, one of the most effective midfielders to grace the Premier League, his England experience has been negative when it mattered, never more so than in Bloemfontein three years ago when the goal that might have changed everything went unseen by the officials and Germany trod all over English ambition yet again.
"That probably was as low as we've been. Against such a great rival, and an emphatic loss in the end. It doesn't matter now what happened during the game. We lost 4-1. We took a bit of a beating, as you do, when we came home. The nation expects. We didn't do it, and we look at ourselves and agree with that. It's about coming back from those sorts of knocks at this top level."
This is Lampard's last shot. He has a friend in Hodgson, who likes his teams to have an experienced core, and if he stays fit he can expect to be on the plane. Not that he allows himself to be seduced by that reasoning.
"We're all in the same boat there. What we've done up to now carries a bit of weight, some more than others, but if your form isn't good enough in the next period of time, six or seven months until May when our season finishes...
"We all have to be on top form. I don't think it should be any other way. If I walked around thinking my 103 caps would get me on the plane, I'd probably be on the beach, because that means you're taking things for granted. I don't think any of us can afford to do that."
There is, as well as the ton of goals for Chelsea, an essential decency in Lampard that is universally recognised and deserves, you feel, to be rewarded in the manner we shall witness at Wembley. It is a pity that his talent for finding Premier League nets has not been mined by England. Given his achievements in the club game you have to assume the explanation for that lies deep in an England enigma that has claimed so many great players down the years.
"The cap has been a long time coming. I requested my dad be involved because there are not many international fathers and sons. It's the sort of thing he'd normally shy away from but with a bit of pressing he's managed to get out there. I think he will be a proud dad."
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