Frank Lampard was never likely to lack skill as a footballer. When your father won the FA Cup twice with West Ham United and your uncle Harry also played for the East London side, as well as later managing it, there's something in the blood. Lampard Jr, however, nurtured his talent to the extent that he was worth £11million to Chelsea, who picked him up from the Upton Park club on 14 June 2001.
The midfielder has captained the England under-21 side and, with Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand, he formed part of one of the West Ham sides that was hotly-tipped to lift the East Londoners. Lampard made his Premiership debut against Sheffield Wednesday in 1996. He was the captain of a West Ham youth team that reached the Final of the FA Youth Cup, as well as the captain of the England U21 side before he stepped up to full England level, winning two caps by the time the 2000-2001 season had ended. The 1998/99 season saw Frank come of age as an ever present in the side where he impressed everyone with his natural talent.
He is a tenacious player with a shot like a bullet. In the 2000/01 season, Lampard was known to have reacted furiously to the news of the transfer for £17million of his close friend Rio Ferdinand to Leeds United. If this unsettled the midfielder, the departure of his father Frank, who followed Harry Redknapp out of Upton Park in May 2001, saw to it that the last thing that bound 'Lamps' to the Hammers was no longer there.
After interest from Aston Villa, who offered £7million for the player, Lampard opted to join Claudio Ranieri at Chelsea. Since then, he has had two good seasons at Stamford Bridge, scoring 13 goals and helping Chelsea to the Champions League in 2002/03, as well as picking up several more England caps.During the 2003/04 Lampard blossomed as a player, shooting himself straight into the hearts of not only Chelsea fans but England fans too. He was one of the few players to escape the tinkering of Claudio Ranieri and was ever present for the Blues throughout the season. He was rewarded with the vice-captaincy during the summer of 2004, and will look to support skipper Terry as the English heart of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea. Lampard enjoyed a fantastic Euro 2004 - he scored three goals in the tournament and shone regardless of whether as part of Eriksson's diamond formation or the more traditional line-up. For Chelsea he bagged 15 goals in all competitions, and at 26, surely there is just more of the same to come from this hugely talented midfielder. Vice-captain to John Terry, Lampard was one of the keys to Chelsea's immense success in the 2004/05 season. A regular fixture in the centre of midfield, Lampard started 58 times in all competitions, scoring 19 goals.
He also continued his fine Euro 2004 form for the England team throughout the early stages of their World Cup 2006 qualifying campaign. With the retirement of Paul Scholes after Euro 2004, Lampard has proved indespensible for Sven-Goran Eriksson's team, scoring three goals against Austria, Wales and Northern Ireland. To cap his season, Lampard was awarded the Barclays Premiership Player of the Year Award as well as claiming the Football Writers' Association's Footballer of the Year Award. He continued this fine form in 2005/06, despite a rocky start to the season, and scored 20 goals as Chelsea roared to another title. However, the season ended in bitter disappointment for him, as he endured a miserable World Cup with England, failing to get on the scoresheet despite numerous chances.