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