Frank Lampard has finally spoken at length about his benching during Chelsea’s 3-1 loss at Napoli, which he believes was the lowest point of the season for him as well as his teammates.
Andre Villas-Boas, who was then in-charge of Chelsea, chose to bench veterans such as Lampard, Michael Essien, and Ashley Cole and instead started the more inexperienced Raul Meireles, Jose Bosingwa, and Ramires.
Napoli’s offense clinically shredded the Blues, cancelling off Juan Mata’s opening goal with three strikes of their own. Lampard saw from the bench as the window of European glory appeared to shut on his side yet again.
Before Lampard and his teammates could take the field for the second leg in Stamford Bridge, Villas-Boas was effectively relieved of his duties and his assistant Roberto Di Matteo took over with a more balanced approach.
Chelsea’s old-guard – led by Lampard – was re-instated into the regular starting line-up, with younger players like Meireles and Daniel Sturridge going to the bench as under-studies.
It came as little surprise that Lampard stepped up to convert the penalty that tied the score on aggregate against Napoli in the second leg, before Branislav Ivanovic scored the winner in extra time to seal an amazing comeback win.
By showing Napoli the exit door, the Blues famously revived their Champions League hopes and after beating last year’s winners Barca in the semis, they are now staring glory in the face ahead of tomorrow’s final against Bayern Munich.
While Lampard appreciates the way things have panned out, he certaintly hasn’t forgotten how low the Blues dressing room was after the first leg defeat in Naples.
“Football changes in a few seconds – it can go from the worst to the best and the other way around. You wouldn’t have looked ahead of yourselves and saw this,” Lampard stated with humility.
The 33-year old added: “We’re experienced enough to know things can change very quickly, but on that night (in Naples) we were very despondent in the dressing room afterwards and it took a big effort in the weeks in between the two games to turn things around.
“Maybe it was one of the lower times. I knew I wouldn’t play 160 games consecutively all the time – these records don’t go on forever. But it was tough at times for me when I wasn’t in the team and frustrating.”
When asked how he maintained his composure during the tough times, Lampard was more than willing to dish out his advice regarding patience, but reminded that the job has not been completed just yet.
“I sat back at times and got the hump indoors but I tried to carry on working hard and in the end it has turned around personally – but not quite to the full extent yet,” he concluded.