In the summer of 2017, Antonio Conte placed his only influential striker on the transfer list, Diego Costa. He would only love to replace him with the blazing Everton striker who took the league by storm, Romelu Lukaku. The deal would ‘almost’ happen. “I have an unfinished job at Chelsea,” Lukaku said. Until Jose Mourinho put on a call.
What influenced such a turnaround couldn’t be money. He had been at Chelsea and would embrace going back at the first offer. He had Conte unmasking the inner role he would play for his Chelsea team. “He showed me an analysis of the game, how he wanted to play,” he said. Yet, he turned back.
Satisfyingly, it wasn’t money. It was about the status of the man who will plan the tactics. The Manager. He preferred the Special One. “Playing under Jose Mourinho was my destiny. Since I was 11, I knew when he was a manager at Porto, I knew this guy had something. I followed his career, the way his teams played, and as a young kid I was already being busy with tactics.”
Same with most professionals, what decides their interests is the calibre of who will give the instructions. However, the most potent ‘pull power’ is of a former football legend as a manager. Not every footballer gets the opportunity to meet them. The belief is to learn from the ones who know. They had shown the world how good they are while these kids looked up to them – who wouldn’t want to hear about a book from its author?
Such similar hero-obsessive story is Eden Hazard and Zinedine Zidane. In his young age, Hazard would stay glued to the television watching Zidane for hours. “I spoke Zidane, I ate Zidane,” he said. He would compare himself to Zidane – and copy his trademark move. His former manager revealed he trained with Zidane’s number 5 shirt at Stade Brainois. This life-long affinity aided his decision when Real Madrid came calling with Zidane to be his manager.
Frank Lampard represents a similar figure as Zidane to football and to Chelsea. The magic and moments he created during his playing days inspire many young footballers. Even if a player has no special affection for Chelsea football club, the prospects of learning a thing or two from the great ‘Lampard’ catalyses his interest. Every player in Europe wants to join Lampard’s tricky blues!
A recent epitome is the transfer of Timo Werner to Chelsea. He flirted with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in almost every interview. He lauded Klopp as the best manager in the world. He suits the style at Liverpool. He could picture his role in the team already. Only until he spoke to Lampard on the phone.
The situation changed from ‘Chelsea want Werner’ to ‘Werner chose Chelsea.’ “The discussion with the board at Chelsea was so good that I ultimately chose them,” he said. “In the conversation with me, the coach often emphasised how much he wanted me, how much he valued me as a person.”
Bayer Leverkusen star, Kai Havertz – the latest to be linked to Chelsea, also expressed his excitement to join the blues. He went under the Chelsea twitter page comments section to like a tweet saying
‘Announce Havertz.’ According to BILD, he told his club officials “I want to play for Chelsea. And please don’t take too long agreeing a fee, because I want to start training there as quick as possible.”
Chelsea new signing, Hakim Ziyech also divulged how being promised a big role by Lampard influenced his decision. “We had a lot of contact in the last couple of weeks and he gave me a good feeling, that was also big to do with the decision,” he said.
Additionally, Atletico Madrid defender, also a Chelsea target, Jose Gimenez revealed he would love to be in the same team as Lampard. “I would have liked to play with Lampard. I always used to watch Chelsea as a kid, loved them,” he said.
Are these influenced by money? No! It’s the influence of a football icon. It shouldn’t be mixed with being a club legend, it’s more than that. Ole Gunnar Solskjær is an example of a great club legend who can’t attract top stars. The class, in which Frank Lampard is in – comprises of football greats who tons of footballer models.