At 33, Frank Lampard knows the end of his playing career is in sight, but the Chelsea midfielder seems determined to go on a little longer yet and prove his scathing doubters wrong in the process.
The former West Ham man has found himself out of the Blues team intermittently throughout the season as boss Andre Villas-Boas looks to the future.
Many were already writing the obituary of Lampard’s career, both at international and domestic level. Though not those who watch football live at Stamford Bridge it has to be said, if anything their support for their talisman and living legend has grown in recent months.
But Lampard hasn’t got where he is in the game without having a considerable amount of fight and he has risen to the new challenge placed in front of him this season.
He knows he is no longer a regular with England, but he still managed to captain the side to a win over World champions Spain – heading home the winner in the process.
Now he has also made his mark in the title race, just as his club’s premier league odds were sliding to unmanageable levels.
In their clash with leaders Manchester City at a soggy Stamford Bridge Villas-Boas’ men found themselves a goal down after just two minutes thanks to Mario Balotelli’s well taken goal.
But much to the relief of those craving a close title race, Chelsea drew level before half-time thanks to Raul Meireles – ironically the man occupying Lampard’s spot in the side.
Then, with Chelsea cranking up the pressure following Gael Clichy’s second half sending off, Lampard – fresh from the bench just after the hour – got his chance. Joleon Lescott was clumsy in letting his arms flail in the air when trying to block Daniel Strurridge’s shot, giving referee Mark Clattenburg little option but to give a penalty.
Clattenburg didn’t have the best of nights, showing some inconsistencies with his decision making, but at least the two biggest decisions – the penalty and the red card – were spot on.
Speaking of spot on, so was Frank Lampard’s penalty, sending Joe Hart the wrong way and smashing the back of the net to remind the doubters that he still has a role to play in Chelsea’s future.