Even Lampard admitted many of his contemporaries at youth level were more gifted, but few could match his desire for improvement and, under Mourinho, he went to finishing school, learning the tactical discipline and mental strength required to succeed at the highest level.
Lampard was a willing student and by 2005, when his goals against Bolton earned Chelsea a first English title in 50 years, he was well on the way to becoming one of the club’s all-time greats.
He won every major club honour in 13 years at Stamford Bridge, and earned 106 caps for England, before departing for Manchester City in 2014.
Lampard had immense stamina, making a staggering 164 consecutive Premier League appearances for Chelsea — a record for an outfield player — in more than four years.
He was a consummate professional, scoring an extra-time penalty to guide Chelsea to the Champions League final at Liverpool’s expense in 2008, six days after the death of his mother.
While England’s so-called golden generation fell short of expectations, with Lampard’s midfield partnership with Steven Gerrard never thriving, he was always able to raise his game for Chelsea.
Arguably his finest moment came in the 2012 Champions League final when he displayed remarkable tactical prowess and positional sense to drive Chelsea to victory over heavily favoured Bayern Munich in the German club’s own stadium.
It was an against-the-odds triumph that fitted the narrative of Lampard’s career to a tee.