Club Focus – Chelsea – 500 games and counting for Blues goal machine

Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final first leg defeat against Manchester United may have left a sour taste in the mouth of Blues fans, but it was an important moment in the career of one of their most popular heroes as Frank Lampard made his 500th appearance for the club. Signed in the summer of 2001 as a raw 22-year-old by Claudio Ranieri from London rivals West Ham United, few could have predicted the extent of success in his ten year career at Stamford Bridge. 166 goals later, he sits third on the list of Chelsea’s all-time top goal scorers (only Kerry Dixon – 192, and Bobby Tambling – 202, topping his impressive haul.)

During his time at Chelsea, Lampard has amassed an incredible number of achievements, both individual and team honours aplenty. Three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, twice League Cup winner amount to an impressive haul across a decade in West London during which he has continued to play a vital role in Chelsea’s midfield; at one point setting a then Premier League record of 164 consecutive appearances between October 2001-December 2005. Last season, as he completed the first League-FA Cup double in Chelsea’s history, he enjoyed his most prolific season, firing a staggering 27 goals from midfield; even more impressively clocking up a fifth season in a row with at least 20 goals.

There have been so many memorable and vital goals among Lampard’s 166 strikes as he immortalized himself in Chelsea’s history on a number of occasions, none more so than the two goals that sealed the Blues first Premier League crown at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium in 2005, the clubs’ first top flight championship in 50 years. Equally, no Chelsea fan will ever forget the emotion of his crucial extra-time penalty against Liverpool which put the Blues ahead in the 2008 Champions League semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge just six days after the passing of his mother Pat, bravely converting the spot-kick to put Chelsea on their way to the final in Moscow. He was the man of the moment again on the biggest stage of his club career with the equalizing goal against Manchester United, though, cruelly, fate denied him a winners medal as United triumphed on that rain-sodden night via penalties.

Lampard spoke of his pride at reaching the milestone and becoming only the fourth player in Chelsea history to play 500 times for the club, after Ron Harris (795), Peter Bonetti (729) and John Hollins (592):“I have been very fortunate to play in a good club, with a good owner and good managers who have all had trust in me and I am very honoured to join the 500 club,” he told the club’s official website. Ever ambitious, the Chelsea icon expressed his desire to be part of the club for many years to come and his will to continue his Chelsea legacy: “I’d like to carry on as long as I can play at the level I want to be playing at and the club want me to play. There are players like Ryan Giggs, Paolo Maldini and Paul Scholes who have gone on to play some of their best football in their later 30s and I would love to be able to do that.

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