Lampard leaves record-breaking Chelsea career
The England World Cup player, who joined the Premier League club from London rival West Ham United in 2001 for a fee of 11 million pounds ($18 million), scored 211 goals in all competitions for Chelsea.
“Whatever the next challenge is for me I will always be amongst you and have Chelsea in my heart,” Lampard told the club’s fans in a statement.
“Hopefully I will get to see you all soon to say goodbye properly. In the meantime thank you for the memories and keep making history.”
Lampard, who turns 36 on June 20 and will be England’s vice captain at the World Cup in Brazil, is out of contract and has been linked with a move to a new Major League Soccer franchise New York City.
Lampard won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League with Chelsea.
“When I arrived at this fantastic club 13 years ago I would never have believed that I would be fortunate enough to play so many games and enjoy sharing in so much success,” he said.
“This club has become part of my life and I have so many people to thank for the opportunity. Firstly [former Chairman] Ken Bates, who put his neck on the line to sign me as a young player and without him I would not have even begun this experience.
“Roman Abramovich, the man who saved our club and took us all to new levels. His desire to push the club to the top of the football world has rubbed off on everyone,” he added, referring to the Russian billionaire who bought the club in 2003.
Lampard was brought to Chelsea by Manager Claudio Ranieri and the player struggled to prove his worth in his first season at Stamford Bridge.
The Londoner started to blossom in his second campaign and it was his two goals at Bolton Wanderers, in Jose Mourinho’s maiden season in charge in 2004-5, that sealed the club’s first top-flight title in 50 years.
Chelsea won the Premier League title again in 2006 and it was his pass to Didier Drogba that set up the only goal in the 2007 FA Cup final victory over Manchester United at Wembley.
The England international, who has won 103 caps for his country, claimed the domestic league and cup double with Chelsea under Italian Carlo Ancelotti in 2010.
However, the crowning glory of his days in the royal blue number eight shirt came in Munich in May 2012.
With Terry missing because of suspension, Lampard hoisted the Champions League trophy aloft after Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout in the German team’s own Allianz Arena stadium.
Earlier that season, Lampard surpassed Bobby Tambling’s club record tally of 202 goals when he struck twice in a 2-1 Premier League victory at Aston Villa.
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