When the rich and famous find themselves slighted in the newspapers, most will attempt to right the perceived wrong using a phalanx of eager solicitors and publicists. Frank Lampard has other ideas.
Stung by press reports that his ex-girlfriend had labelled him "heartless", the Chelsea and England midfielder telephoned a radio station yesterday to defend his personal conduct following his split with Elen Rives, the mother of his two daughters.
Ms Rives, 34, told a tabloid newspaper earlier this week that she was living in a small flat with their girls, aged two and one, while Lampard had turned the £8.5m house they once shared into a "bachelor pad". She added: "He is so heartless. He's moved on and is seeing other girls. I text him, I tell him I'm not coping but he doesn't care. I cry to him on the phone but I get nothing from him. No emotion, just blank. He's a bastard."
The story was discussed by LBC presenter James O'Brien on his morning phone-in show, prompting the Chelsea captain to call the radio station and berate him. Lampard, 30, said: "My sister just called me and said she was distressed by your comments calling me weak and scum. Is that right?"
O'Brien tried to explain his comments, but Lampard, clearly upset at the intrusion into his private life, said: "You don't even know me." The Premier League star was particularly incensed by O'Brien's suggestion that he was a bad father and added: "Every penny I earn and every yard I run on the football pitch is for my kids. The hardest part of this whole break-up for me is not waking up with my kids every day.
"I hope that one day your wife or girlfriend doesn't come to you and say, 'I don't want to be with you anymore, and unfortunately that means you won't see the kids for a few days a week.' That will hurt you."
O'Brien admitted that it would "break my heart" and the footballer responded: "Yeah, and it's breaking my heart. Do you think I'm happy?"
Lampard went on to say that yesterday was the first anniversary of his mother's death. Pat Lampard died of pneumonia aged 58. He added: "That's had a huge impact on my relationship at home. Today the only reason I ring you is because my sister is distressed. Do you think my sister needs to hear idiots like you ... on the radio?"
The presenter said he was unaware of the date's significance and "apologised unreservedly". Lampard added: "Sometimes you should think about things before you speak about them."
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The footballer, who went to a private school, studied Latin and reportedly has an IQ higher than 150, putting him in the most intelligent 0.1 per cent in the population, also said his ex-fiancée had made the comments while "drunk" at a nightclub and to a person she was not aware was a journalist.
Despite the intense and sometimes emotional content of the 11-minute conversation, it ended on a surprisingly jocular note. O'Brien asked: "So you won't give us a rundown on your thoughts for the Champions League semi-final then?"
"No," Lampard said. "I certainly won't."
On the attack: Chelsea star on the radio
*Lampard: "Unfortunately I have split up with my girlfriend, but my kids will never ever live in inferior circumstances. They're now living in a temporary flat in Fulham and it's not a bad flat at all.
"For three nights of the week, and I'm away probably two to three nights with my football anyway, the kids wake up in my house. I look after my kids solely. I wake up if my kids wake up at three in the morning or if they wake up at six in the morning regardless of whether I have a football match or not. They wake up in the bedrooms I decorated for them and that's what they'll always do."
*JAMES O'BRIEN: "I can't conceive of any circumstances in which I wouldn't fight tooth and flipping nail to hold my family together."
*Lampard: "Excuse me, what do you think I've been doing for the last two years? I find it insulting that you're telling me you would fight tooth and nail, insinuating that I wouldn't fight tooth and nail. That's what I've spent time doing."
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