Chelsea star grateful to former England boss for picking him.
Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard has made the surprise choice of singling Sven-Goran Eriksson out for praise in the launching of his international career, as he prepares to celebrate 100 appearances for his country in tonight’s game against Ukraine.
Speaking to the London Evening Standard, the 35-year-old says it would not have been possible for him to become the player he has at international level without Eriksson’s influence early on in his career, when the Swede picked him alongside a talented midfield of Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes and David Beckham.
Lampard repaid Eriksson’s faith in him by shining at Euro 2004, and he has been a regular for the Three Lions ever since, now joining an elite group of players to win 100 caps for the national team.
Speaking about his career for England, Lampard felt it was right to acknowledge Eriksson, saying: “When it comes to a coach who had a big role in my England career, Sven-Goran Eriksson always helped me hugely because he put a lot of confidence in me and broke me into the team pre-Euro 2004.
“There wasn’t anything in particular that Sven said to me that was inspirational apart from saying, ‘You are in the team’, but that was more than enough to provide a huge lift.
“You have to remember that at the time England’s midfield had been well established with players like Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes so it meant a lot to me to play in the first team alongside them.
“He really gave me my chance, gave me my self-belief at international level. I will always remember that with high regard.”
Lampard will be hoping his 100th cap goes well, as England need the points to help them on their way to World Cup qualification for next summer, which would likely be the Chelsea veteran’s last major tournament.
Only seven other players have won a century of caps for the national side, one of whom is Lampard’s Chelsea team-mate Ashley Cole.