Soccer-Chelsea salute Lampard's momentous Stamford Bridge career


By Tony Jimenez

LONDON, June 2 (Reuters) - Chelsea described Frank Lampard as "one of the very greatest players to have represented the club" after England's 2014 World Cup vice-captain brought the curtain down on an outstanding 13-year Stamford Bridge career.

"Any Chelsea supporter who has had the good fortune to watch 'Super Frank' Lampard in full flow will know we have never seen his like in our midfield before and we will be very blessed to again see his equal," the club said in a statement on Monday.

The midfielder, who turns 36 on June 20, announced earlier in the day that he was leaving the 2012 European champions.

"Frank Lampard's momentous career as a Chelsea player will end when his contract expires at the end of this month," the club said.

"Lampard has not yet announced his destination but all at Chelsea wish him every success for the future. He leaves with our enormous gratitude for the major part he played over 13 years packed with unforgettable victories, trophies lifted and records set.

"He blazed a trail during his long Chelsea career. Only Ron Harris and Peter Bonetti played more than his 648 games and Lampard famously leads our all-time scoring chart," the club added.

"His goal touch allied with all-round quality and fantastic stamina helped change the way football views the modern central midfield player."

Chelsea said the former West Ham United player's consistency set him apart from the rest.

"Lampard's brilliance was not just limited to the deluge of goals he netted over his years at Stamford Bridge - 211 in total at an average of over 16 a season - nor was it confined to the significance of so many of those strikes," the statement read.

"What really stands him out as one of the all-time greats was his extraordinary consistency.

"He netted 20 or more goals for five consecutive seasons and according to statistics compiled for Premier League assists, he has supplied the second-highest figure in that competition's history.

"He made a record-breaking 164 consecutive league appearances between 2001 and 2005, still the highest for an outfield player," the statement continued.

"The facts may seem to speak for themselves but in truth they barely tell half the story. It is Lampard's dedication to improvement throughout his career that is perhaps the most remarkable facet of his game."

Lampard was voted FIFA's 2005 World Player of the Year runner-up, the same year Chelsea ended a 50-year wait to become champions of England.

The England international also won the Premier League in 2006 and 2010, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup twice and the 2013 Europa League. (Editing by Mark Meadows)

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