Frank Lampard says that move to New York City FC in Major League Soccer "ticks all the boxes"
Frank Lampard reckons that some of his old teammates at Chelsea will be a bit jealous of him after Thursday.
The legendary English midfielder was unveiled as the fourth-ever player signing for 2015 MLS expansion club New York City FC, penning a two-year deal with the club. And he says the move represented a perfect fit after his decision to part ways with Chelsea after 13 seasons.
"Talking about ticking all the boxes personally for me, I think this does exactly that," Lampard said in his press conference at Brooklyn's Pier 5. "I’ve seen a real long-term plan from everyone involved in the club and I wanted to be a part of that. I want to test myself, carry on challenging myself and I want to be that leader and that person not just on the pitch, but off the pitch."
Those intangibles played a major role in the signing for sporting director Claudio Reyna and NYCFC manager Jason Kreis, who rated Lampard "A plus, plus, plus" when it comes to soccer ability, leadership and character.
But Lampard's physical mettle will also be tested in MLS with some of the travel and weather challenges that come with playing in North America.
"I’ll have to cope. We’re all professional athletes and we have to train the right way and prepare the right way," said the 36-year-old. "It’s about conservation and doing the right things. I think I’ve been pretty good at that in my career … Going from very humid to very cold weather here in the States is actually interesting to me and I enjoy the challenge of that. And if I can prepare right, I think I can take that on."
As far as his preparations in the lead-up to his first MLS training camp in January, Lampard indicated that a decision has yet to be made and Reyna revealed that the team is "exploring a few options," the details of which will be worked out in the coming days.
Not everything will be brand new for Lampard, who is already familiar with his home field, Yankee Stadium, where he played for Chelsea in 2012 and 2013 in experiences that left him "overwhelmed." His family and friends apparently have similar reaction.
"The minute you say Yankee Stadium, they fall over and can't believe it," he said. "It’s a great opportunity to play football. An iconic stadium. An iconic place. And I hope we as a team can do it proud by playing great football there."
Lampard made it clear that he didn't need to speak to his friend and former MLS star David Beckham to make his decision. He knows with his own eyes what MLS is all about.
"The quality has gone up and up. We can see that. I’ve been watching games in the MLS back home for a long time now," he said. "The respect MLS has around the world has gone up huge amounts, and it’s the same for me.
"The standard here at the MLS and the appeal of it has grown very much," Lampard continued. "I know from talking in dressing rooms over the last years that players are interested in moving out here and playing. It might not have been the same five or 10 years ago, but certainly now they are."
And so after Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC) and American Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), now it's Lampard's turn to prove that his stellar Premier League credentials can translate to MLS stardom.
"I'll give everything," he said. "I’d love to make the New York City fans see that in me and realize I’m a player that wants to show I’m a part of them so we can bring a team here that we’re very proud of. If I can do that I’ll go away a happy man."