It was a Thursday morning in September. School had just started and I was already figuring out the optimal strategy to spend as little time on campus as possible. I had class from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursdays, and a large four-hour break to follow. I had already figured out the best place to park on campus so I could run out from class, drive home and be back in my pajamas within 20 minutes.
I was bursting out of Leon and Thea Koerner University Centre (UCLL) once class ended and I headed for the Rose Garden parking lot that day. Little did I know that my soccer idol and inspiration was practicing on the opposite side of campus.
He was the reason I started playing in central midfield as a kid and the reason I wore number eight for most of my childhood. He was the inspiration for a full show-and-tell presentation (jersey-shaped poster board and all) in grade three. The reason I got up every weekend as a child to sit and watch Chelsea play was here at my university.
Five months later, the man announced his retirement. On February 2, 2017, 38-year-old Chelsea-great Frank Lampard decided to move on to “the next chapter in his life,” as stated on his Instagram page. He departs after 148 appearances for West Ham, 649 appearances with Chelsea, 106 caps for England, one season with Manchester City and one season with New York City FC.
What’s more, he is a three-time Chelsea Player of the Year and their all-time top scorer with 211 goals in all competitions.
I won’t claim to being a die-hard Chelsea fan. I made the team support switch to Tottenham in high school (sacrilege, I know). Still, Frank Lampard is a name that will forever be etched in my childhood, my sports history and in my career path as it stands today.
Football writer Callum Rice-Coates wrote about the icon in his piece, “Frank Lampard: The last legend of a dying breed” for These Football Times. According to him, Lampard could create goal-scoring chances like no other. He had the ability to anticipate plays and to find optimal attacking positions. He could move into the perfect goal-scoring position without anyone noticing. He made central midfield look effortless.
Something pre-teen me adopted from the Lampard skill set was his passing vision. I was never very good at scoring, but after watching countless Lampard passing plays, I adopted it into my own repertoire. I may not have been fast or intimidating in the attacking half, but he taught me how to knock a damn good pass through the opposing team’s defence.
I am no Frank Lampard, I admit. I will never hold any records for any organization. In 20 years, my name will be a fading memory in the history of Argyle Secondary’s senior women’s soccer team.
Instead, Lampard taught me how to understand the importance of each position on the field. He taught me to appreciate what makes each player unique and valuable to a team. That is a skill I am forever grateful for as I move forward in the world of sports media.
Ultimately though, he taught me how to love a game and love sports.
Today, that love for sport is an incredibly large part of what makes me... “me.” I play, watch, and write about sports each and every day.
It all started with the discovery of Chelsea’s number eight and I wouldn’t have it any other way.