Frank Lampard ready to embrace his new MLS challenge
Published 25/07/2014 | 02:30
Frank Lampard had no hesitation in signing a two-year contract with New York City FC to move to Major League Soccer.
The 36-year-old was sought after all over the world after leaving Chelsea at the end of last term following 13 seasons and a club record 211 goals.
The midfielder becomes the fourth player to sign for New York City FC and the second major summer signing following the arrival of David Villa from Atletico Madrid.
Despite joining a new club in a still-emerging league, Lampard insisted the move was not a gamble.
"What professional move doesn't have risk with it?" Lampard said. "It's not a risk. It's a challenge. I can be in the middle of that challenge.
"I want to make New York City a team that New Yorkers are proud of. And I will do my best to do that."
Lampard made 649 appearances for Chelsea since signing from West Ham in 2001. He has played 106 times for England, scoring 29 goals.
He signed a one-year contract extension with the Blues in May 2013 after mulling over a move to the Los Angeles Galaxy, who he will now play in opposition from next spring.
New York City FC sporting director Claudio Reyna said Lampard was "one of the greatest players over the last 15 years" and "ticked all the boxes" in terms of a signing.
Lampard, who won every club trophy on offer with Chelsea, added: "Why not choose New York City? Talking about it ticking all the boxes, personally for me this does exactly the same. It's a very exciting challenge for me in life terms.
"I've seen the vision, a real long-term plan and I wanted to be part of that. I want to test myself, I want to carry on challenging myself, I want to be that leader, and not just on the pitch, but someone off the pitch.
"I had a fantastic 13 years at Chelsea, I can look back at that with immense pride. (But) it was a good time for myself and Chelsea that I moved on."
Lampard is convinced by the standard of MLS.
"We saw David Beckham come here, we saw the league take great strides," he said. "The quality has gone up and up. I've been watching games in the MLS back home for a long time now.
"Big players are coming out here. David Villa, Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane and the American home-based players. We only have to look at what the USA did at the World Cup and the imprint they left on the world.
"The respect the MLS has around the world has gone up huge amounts. That's what makes it such a great opportunity and a challenge for me.
"The appeal of it has grown very much. I know from talking in dressing-rooms over the last years that players are interested in moving out here and playing; it might not have been the same five or 10 years ago. It's a great place to come and play your football, or your soccer."
Lampard did not speak to former England team-mate and ex-LA Galaxy captain David Beckham about MLS.
"The decision was all mine," he said. Lampard is still to determine what the immediate future holds, given the season begins in 2015, and he could yet join Villa on loan at Melbourne City FC in Australia.
He added: "I'm going to keep fit, that's the main thing. How I do that is not clear yet.
"I'm going to sit round with people at the club and sort that out."
Lampard was in England's 23-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil but is still to decide on his international future, prioritising his club future.
"In terms of England, I've had a bit of time after the World Cup which was obviously a huge disappointment," he added. "I now need to think about England and think about what I want to do with that.
"I haven't got a complete answer, but now I know where I'll be playing my football next year I can make that decision."
Lampard is moving on and so too are Chelsea, with Cesc Fabregas signed from Barcelona to replace Lampard.
"He's a world-class player," Lampard said. "We've had our battles in the past, with Chelsea and Arsenal, but I wish Cesc the best because I wish Chelsea the best, it's as simple as that."