Frank Lampard has no regrets over how his final Premier League season has developed – but is eagerly awaiting the next chapter of his career in the United States.
Former England midfielder Lampard is playing out the season with Manchester City before joining their sister club New York City, the Major League Soccer newcomers, in the summer.
It is a move the 36-year-old was expected to have already made by now after it was announced he would be joining the American outfit in January 2015 when he left Chelsea last year.
But a short-term deal to train and play with City at the start of the current season proved unexpectedly successful and was extended, amid much confusion, in December.
There was also heavy criticism of the delayed move in the US and, given Lampard's lack of starts and City's indifferent form since, further questions have been asked over its wisdom.
But Lampard said: "I am very excited. I am very fortunate about this part of my career, coming to City. It was something I never saw coming.
"At 36 I got asked to come to the champions and a club with this pedigree. I am delighted that happened as it has done, and I am delighted about the future and the opportunity to go and play in New York – to try and make the best of it individually, to help there and also be part of a new football club in one of the best cities in the world. I am fortunate."
NYCFC is a new venture by City's owner Sheikh Mansour and is now fully up and running with their first three MLS games having been played this month.
Lampard has familiarized himself with the operation and his new team-mates having spent time with them during their pre-season training camp in Manchester. With matches now being televised in the UK he has seen even more and he "possibly" might even visit to the Big Apple during the current international break, such is his enthusiasm for the fledgling club.
He said: "I've watched their games and thought they looked fantastic, the home game particularly. I thought the atmosphere in the ground, the crowd – I've had feedback from inside the club about what a buzz there is for it in the city. I was delighted for the lads.
"There were question marks over it before – this is a completely new thing for so many of us. Who knows? What I do know is the people behind the scenes have done an amazing job. I hope it goes from strength to strength."
One challenge Lampard is particularly looking forward to is facing his long-time international team-mate and club rival Steven Gerrard.
Liverpool captain Gerrard is also heading across the Atlantic at the end of the season, to join Los Angeles Galaxy.
Lampard has already checked the fixture list.
"August 23!" Lampard said, without hesitation, when asked if he knew when the two clubs were due to meet. "It's at their place.
"I am pleased for Stevie. I think it is a very good move for him and I think it is great for the league. People in Europe at the top leagues are talking about MLS. Players will go there.
"I look forward to being competitive against Stevie. We get on very well, particularly in our latter years as captain and vice-captain of England. I have a huge amount of respect for him."
Lampard, who won 106 England caps, believes the timing is right for Gerrard, who was in the final year of his contract at Anfield.
He said: "What more can he do for Liverpool? He has had a fantastic career.
"I wasn't sure about my timings as a Chelsea player but the decision got made for me. When you have got to make the decision for yourself it's a bit more difficult maybe.
"Only he knows that but at the minute I would say yes. He has been – if not their greatest player – right up there with their greatest players ever."
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