Jose Mourinho believes that Frank Lampard would have won the Ballon d’Or if the midfielder had won the UEFA Champions League before 2012.
Lampard did finish second to Barcelona’s Ronaldinho back in 2005, the same year the Blues were eliminated from the Champions League against Liverpool courtesy of the infamous ‘ghost goal’. Controversy became the theme for Chelsea’s exploits in the competition almost every single time they went close, with Ovrebo-gate being the most shocking example.
The 35-year-old finally won the competition in 2012 as part of a squad that was arguably greatly inferior to those that had failed, ironically enough, but by this time he wouldn’t be considered for major personal accolades such as the Ballon d’Or as he is in his twilight years as a player.
In an extract from Mike Carson’s book ‘The Manager’, Mourinho was quoted:
“That season [2004-05] was a season for them to say, ‘We are the best in this country’, and it was the season for me to say: ‘I’m not just very good in Portugal, I’m also very good here.’ So it was like an explosion of motivation on both sides.
“I remember saying clearly to Frank Lampard: ‘You are one of the best players in the world, but nobody knows.’
“In one of the seasons Frank was a finalist in what is now the Ballon d’Or, and I think he didn’t win because he was not a European champion.
“Between 2004 and 2007 he became, for sure, one of the best players in the world. So we motivate people also with individual challenges, and for him, for sure, that was a challenge we put there and he understood and he was ready for it.
“If Frank’s 2012 Champions League win had come before, he would have been voted the best.”
I feel Lampard has been under appreciated in many ways, especially in England, as journalist and pundits alike have always concerned themselves by making dull comparisons to Steven Gerrard (have you ever seen him win the league?) rather than praise Lamps for what he is and what he has achieved in the game.
Only last season did the so-called football experts rally around the player by suggesting that the Blues would be crazy to let his contract expire and leave the West London club on a free transfer, did they praise him enough during his pomp?
The England international’s powers may be on the wane but used in the right way he’ll always grab you a number of important goals. He’s currently the club’s all-time goal scorer with 203 goals and has reached double figures 10 seasons in-a-row. That’s not to mention the 29 goals in 98 caps he has for the Three Lions. He has a Champions League crown to his name, three Premier League titles, one Europa League cup, four FA Cups, two League Cups and two FA Community Shields.
He’s often described as a Chelsea legend, which he is, but he’s more than that – Frank Lampard is a Premier League legend and one of the best goal-scoring midfielders to ever play in Europe. Mourinho is right when he says that Lampard deserved to win a Ballon d’Or during his career but he wouldn’t swap it for what has got and doesn’t need one to cement his name in football history.