‘ The loss of my mum com­pletely changed me as a per­son. I zoned out for quite a while’

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Magazine - - Frank Lampard -

he used to think he’d like to be a lawyer, al­though he was prob­a­bly in­flu­enced by watch­ing on TV and doubts he’d have had the pa­tience to study for years on end. None­the­less, put this to­gether with the two chil­dren’s books — the first of a se­ries — that he’s pub­lished this sum­mer, and his sign­ing up as a Sum­mer Read­ing Chal­lenge Cham­pion for The Read­ing Agency, and you get the pic­ture of a man in­ter­ested in more cere­bral pur­suits than the com­puter games and rounds of golf favoured by his col­leagues.

If his dad was some­times hard on him, Lam­pard’s mother Pat was the op­po­site. He de­scribes her as ‘a nice foil’ to his fa­ther and ‘quite soft’, and him­self as ‘very much a mummy’s boy’. When she died un­ex­pect­edly in 2008, aged 58, Frank’s world col­lapsed. He de­scribes it now, in emo­tional tones, as an event that ‘com­pletely changed me as a per­son’, as a seis­mic loss that left him an­gry and con­fused. Even when his mum was healthy, he says he used to have ‘kind of weird thoughts’ about her not be­ing around. Af­ter her death, he ‘zoned out for quite a while’.

His mother’s sis­ter San­dra is mar­ried to Harry Red­knapp, giv­ing Lam­pard a foot­balling f irst cousin in the shape of pun­dit and for­mer pro Jamie Red­knapp. They’re ev­i­dently a very close fam­ily — Lam­pard has two sis­ters, Natalie and Claire — and pulled to­gether in the af­ter­math of the be­reave­ment, but the strain told else­where.

At the be­gin­ning of the fol­low­ing year, his seven-year re­la­tion­ship with his f iancée Elen Rives broke up. The cou­ple have two daugh­ters, Luna and Isla, now eight and six, and Frank is clearly be­sot­ted with them — so much so that they in­spired him to take up a pen and write Frankie’s Magic Football. The first in­stal­ment, Frankie vs The Pi­rate Pil­lagers, came out in June, fol­lowed by Frankie vs The Rowdy Ro­mans a fort­night ago. Three more books in the se­ries are planned. ‘I’m very proud to have done some­thing dif­fer­ent,’ he says of the sto­ries, which he be­gan think­ing about when he started read­ing to a three­year-old Luna. ‘And I can ac­tu­ally say I’m do­ing it rather than just putting my name to some­thing.’ His daugh­ters, he ex­plains, are aware of his day job, and like ‘ Daddy be­ing a foot­baller’, but he’s keen not to draw their at­ten­tion to his celebrity and wealth. Luck­ily, they’re not all that into it; Isla, he says, is pretty sporty, but they’re still more drawn to­wards fairies and an­gels and ballet. Above: Frank’s win­ning free kick, 18 Au­gust. Left: his sec­ond chil­dren’s book. Right: José Mour­inho

He spent a year alone af­ter the break-up with Elen and then met Chris­tine — ‘when I didn’t ex­pect to meet any­one’ — at an awards cer­e­mony. They waited for a long time to in­tro­duce the girls to the sit­u­a­tion — ‘Chris­tine didn’t want to be brought into their lives in the early stages and then go away’ — which meant a fair bit of cloak-anddag­ger pa­parazzi dodg­ing. The role of a new part­ner in chil­dren’s lives is a tough one, he says, and Chris­tine has ‘done it bril­liantly’. He’s been asked ‘a mil­lion times’ when they will marry, and says, quite rightly, ‘We know what we’re go­ing to do, and we’re go­ing to do it in our own time.’ Ditto, the prospect of hav­ing chil­dren to­gether. In the mean­time, he says, ‘She’s my best mate. Sim­ple as that. Sounds a bit corny but it is like that.’ They cer­tainly seem to go every­where to­gether.

If Lam­pard has thoughts of what he might do af­ter football, he’s be­ing sen­si­bly tight-lipped, al­though he will say that he wouldn’t want to play else­where in Eng­land (for those who want to read the runes, his favourite over­seas des­ti­na­tions are Italy and Los An­ge­les). As with many pros near­ing the end of their play­ing days, he’s plan­ning to get his coach­ing badges un­der his belt, and he hasn’t ruled out TV pun­ditry, though he’s a lit­tle un­sure that he could comment on football ev­ery week. All this might be dis­cre­tion, but I’d say he just en­joys play­ing too much to con­tem­plate not do­ing so. I ask him that all-im­por­tant Eng­land ques­tion: will he get to 100 caps? He laughs and says he’s hope­ful, es­pe­cially with two games com­ing up next month. You can’t stick on 99, surely? ‘I wouldn’t do it out of choice,’ he replies diplo­mat­i­cally. ‘Put it that way.’

Right now, though, there are five tro­phies to play for, in­clud­ing a do­mes­tic league that Chelsea last won four sea­sons ago. They have a new man­ager to whom Lam­pard says he is as close as a player and gover­nor can ever be. Even more im­por­tantly, Frank has a new con­tract — a fact that seemed in doubt a few months ago. As Abramovich vac­il­lated over ne­go­ti­a­tions, the Stam­ford Bridge faith­ful made their feel­ings known; they didn’t want Frank to go any­where: ‘I had a great re­la­tion­ship with the fans any­way, but when you’re 34 and peo­ple come up to you in the street and they’re re­ally be­hind you, it cre­ates a bond that I’ll never lose. I’ll be a Chelsea per­son for life.’ Frankie’s Magic Football: Frankie vs The Rowdy Ro­mans is out now (Lit­tle, Brown Books for Young Read­ers, £4.99)

Lucky strike

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