Chelsea FC’s tours in the United States over the past decade fostered Frank Lampard’s interest in the country and Major League Soccer as a prime destination, according to the England international midfielder.
“I love America having been out here for preseasons many, many years,” said Lampard on SiriusXM FC’s The Football Show with Neil Barnett Friday morning. “We often sit in the hotels and say what a great country it is, how nice the people are, what an interesting option it is. And for me, it became the number one option.”
The 36-year-old midfielder weighed different alternatives before New York City FC and their owners, City Football Group and Yankee Global Enterprises, swayed Lampard to sign a two-year contract with the team on July 28, 2014. The club’s manager, Jason Kreis, and director of football operations, Claudio Reyna, used their ambition of becoming a top team in MLS to convince Lampard.
“They want to do it seriously and the City Group are amazing. They leave no stone unturned and try to do the right things,” Lampard said. “I mean it would be a very difficult job if you were sloppy and you left out details, but I think everyone at the club is trying to do it right and they’ve got the right backing.”
As a member of the “golden generation” of English footballers, Lampard led a storied career in the Barclays Premier League and became Chelsea’s all-time leading goal-scorer after joining the team from West Ham United F.C. in 2001.
Chelsea allowed the contract of the player their supporters called “Super Frank” to expire after the 2013-14 season, making him a free agent and giving him the freedom to sign with whichever club he chose. Although New York City FC’s new signing may not be the same player he was during his prime, the household name still has plenty left in the tank, Lampard said.
“As your body changes, you might find things in the game harder to do that you could have done before. On the flip side, you have more experience in your head. You know how to not only change your own game in a good way but to help others around you,” Lampard said. “In my own head I can probably pick and choose my runs forward, for instance, to get in the box a bit more wisely than when I was younger.”
MLS and New York City FC already made a big splash by signing David Villa earlier in the summer to accompany Lampard, and fellow expansion team Orlando City Soccer Club announced Kaka as their first designated player.
“What kind of recognition does this league have around the world? Well what I can say is that now people are coming over and it’s not just David Beckham anymore,” said Lampard. “People are recognizing. Big players are coming over here. And I’d love to think, at the end of my contract here, [MLS] can move onto another level than that even.”