Frank Lampard has revealed he turned down “flattering opportunities” to return to management after being sacked by Chelsea but is “very keen” on finding another club.
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The 42-year-old was speaking at a question-and-answer session to preview this month’s London Football Awards, organised by the charity Willow Foundation, in his first public appearance since leaving the Blues in January.
Lampard has been linked with the England Under-21 job and although sources have told ESPN there is little prospect of the former midfielder taking up that role, he admitted he is willing to consider another job in the near future after his wife Christine gave birth to his fourth child last month.
“I have [thought about returning to management] and I’ve had some opportunities that have come up in the last six week to two months which have been flattering and very nice but were not the right thing.
“It was certainly the time for me to take a step out having been managing for two and a half years full pelt and having the family situation. The opportunities were not quite right but I think about it and it would be something I am very keen to do, at the right time, at the right place.
“As much as I am resting and recuperating and stepping away from the game, my eyes are always on it. Certainly I’m always going over things that have happened in the past two and a half years, looking forward to things that may come. I’m always obviously watching football, trying to learn, trying to get better as we all do in this game. You never stop learning. I will try and find the right time, the right opportunity and I am very keen to get working again.
“Perspective is a great word because perspective that we all gained, that I gained last year in the first lockdown that came as such a shock to us all changed my life a little bit and my thinking because football is something that has consumed my life firstly as a player and then as a manager.
“That first lockdown [due to the coronavirus last March] was the first moment out of the game where I got time to do things I hadn’t been doing, spending time with the family.
“Nobody wants to lose their job and come out of the game you love but at the same time, I think and I knew this very well, when you go into this career, this will happen, no matter how good you think you are or whatever circumstances you are in.
“It gives you a sense of perspective and what’s important. It’s come at a time when we were due a young son. It’s given me a lot more time to be at home. You count your blessing on that front and it’s been great to be around the family.”
Lampard revealed that Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson — whom he played under for England at the 2014 World Cup — contacted him after losing his job at Stamford Bridge to offer his support.
“He’s an absolute gentleman of the game, I have so much time for him personally and professionally,” said Lampard. “I actually spoke with him pretty recently when I left Chelsea. He gave me a call and we had a good chat. It was lovely to take some words of experience from someone who has been in the game for so long.”
Lampard also confirmed he had hoped to bring West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice to Chelsea during his time in charge but was unable to make the move happen. Sources have told ESPN there was never a formal offer with the Hammers demanding £80 million for the midfielder.
“I’ve probably given it away in how I’ve spoken about him,” said Lampard. “He is certainly a player I admire. It is common knowledge I was a big fan of his. It didn’t happen for various reasons. We obviously brought players in in the summer and it didn’t happen. But I was a big fan of his.
“For understandable reasons as well, West Ham are understanding of the player they have on their hands. I don’t want to put Declan in a position with this because all I see from Declan is absolute performance and desire to play for West Ham, the club he is at now.
“I’m sure he absolutely respects the club for giving him his opportunity there. The choices will be Declan’s as the years go ahead but the performances he’s giving there now is great to watch.”
The London Football Awards will take place virtually for the first time on April 27.
[Editor’s Note: James Olley will be on the voting panel for the 2021 London Football Awards.]