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22 May 2012

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Author: michaelcalvin | Filed under: Blog

Only one man at Chelsea deserved to lift the Champions League trophy, and his name is not John Terry. Frank Lampard is The Man, the player who embodies the key elements of the most unlikely victory since David gave Goliath a good kicking.

Since I don’t want to appear hypocritical, I’ll admit I didn’t want Chelsea to win in Munich. My reasons, expressed here on Friday, remain valid, in my mind at least. But it would be churlish to refuse to recognise the values Lampard represents.

We’ve agreed to disagree, loudly, in the past, but found common ground on one issue, best expressed by legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi. His famous observation – “The strength of the group is the strength of the leaders” – could have been crafted for Chelsea.

Lombardi would have loathed Terry’s self-conscious celebration at the Allianz Arena. Chelsea fans will not care a jot, but I suspect I was not the only neutral to wince, and feel ever so slightly queasy, when he couldn’t wait to rip off his tracksuit and reveal the full kit underneath.

He was living out the fantasy of his ‘JT: Captain, Leader, Legend’ banner at Stamford Bridge. By rights, they should change the initials to FL, by the start of next season. Lampard is the heart and soul of a club that, for all its faults, deserves to savour an incredible achievement.

Although Terry sees himself as a future Chelsea manager, Lampard is a more compelling candidate. He is intelligent, driven and infinitely more subtle in his appreciation of power, and its application. He is more than a one-dimensional macho man.

His personality is suited to modern management: he is ruthless yet approachable, hard yet sensitive. His gesture, in seeking out a TV camera to send a message to his daughter, would have made hearts melt. Although his influence as a player is on the wane, the force of his will and the strength of his personality make him an asset to any team.

He never hides, never shirks responsibility. His tactical awareness, honed over time, still allows him to read play quickly and efficiently. He may not need football, because he has enough money for several lifetimes, but it needs him.

Respect, Frank. You’ve earned it.

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