Lampard only thinking of England
Stuart Mawhinney in Dnipropetrovsk
Saturday, 10 October, 2009
Speaking exclusively to TheFA.com, Lampard says his focus is entirely on England.
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Frank Lampard says that he is focused on helping England secure their ninth victory in qualification, and is not thinking about any other country that may or may not reach South Africa.
Ukraine and Croatia are bidding for a playoff place in group six, while the likes of Portugal, France, Germany and Argentina are yet to secure their place at the World Cup. But Lampard is only thinking of England.
Speaking exclusively to TheFA.com, Lampard said: "I don't really care either way, I just focus on England. I think that attitude is what has got us to the position we are in, only by looking at ourselves and working on our game. I think that regardless of who you face at a major tournament you will get very tough games. Whether you play the likes of Portugal and France, or other countries like Croatia and Russia who both did very well at the Euros last year, you will get very tough games.
"There's a nice air of confidence, as there should be having qualified in the way that we have, but I think the Manager is very determined to carry on the good form and improve on that. The players are as well so it's certainly not too relaxed, and we have to make sure when we train we are focused and when the game comes we don't want the feeling that we have already qualified, but just the feeling that we are trying to win the game.
"It would be a great achievement [to win ten out of ten], but to be honest it's a great achievement already. I think it would bring us down a little if we had two bad results at the end of the campaign, so it's very important for confidence in ourselves and from the outside just to keep working on the team. I think the idea of winning all the games would be fantastic, but Ukraine and Belarus will be very tough games. Particularly Ukraine as they're fighting to try and get second place in the group, so nothing will be taken for granted but we will be trying our best to try and keep winning our games.
In a wide ranging interview, Lampard also spoke of the influence that Italian coaches have had on his career. Dating back to Claudio Ranieri who took him to Stamford Bridge, to his current club and country bosses, Carlo Ancelotti and Fabio Capello, Lampard has nothing but praise.
"They are very disciplined, they work very hard on the training field, but obviously they are all different personalities with different styles. The way they carry themselves and the way they go day-to-day with the players. They all have the same theme, which is working hard, being organised and being winners. I've been lucky enough to work with some of the best, and they've improved me and I've enjoyed playing under them.
"Ancelotti has been fantastic, on and off the pitch. He's a very good man, we've all enjoyed and reacted to his management style off the pitch. And on the pitch, tactically, on the training ground and the way he is with us on match days, I think it's been proven by the results but everyone is very happy with him."
Lampard is also pleased with his current scoring form for England, having notched six goals in his last seven games for England, and grabbed five goals in his last five visits to Wembley.
" Yeah I'm very happy. It was a quiet little period for me in terms of scoring goals for England but that happens at club football and international football. I was playing a deeper role but recently I have had the opportunity to get forward that little bit more, and when I get forward and arrive in the box I'm always confident I'll score goals. It's been a nice run for me and I'll try and continue with it."
Looking further into the future and the World Cup in 2018, though the 31-year-old might not still be playing for England then, he is very sure about the right place to host the biggest tournament in football.
"There are so many reasons why England would be a great place for the World Cup. I was a teenager when we hosted the Euros in 1996, and that was a fantastic competition. We obviously have the stadiums and I don't think there's anyone in the world that could rival the stadiums we have, that's for sure because I've travelled and seen stadiums all over the world.
"We have the fans with an incredible passion to hold the World Cup, I know that the country will do everything to make it right for people to travel. The different cultures that we have in England already and the way we would accept people coming in to watch all their teams.
"I think there is a real history with England and football, with Wembley Stadium as well, and although there is real competition if we go about it in the right way then for me, although I'm obviously biased, England would be a fantastic choice."
In the more immediate future, Lampard will be looking to be part of his second World Cup next summer in South Africa, and the Chelsea midfielder admits every English footballer has a big year ahead of them.
"It's huge," Lampard explained. "As I said before the World Cup is the biggest thing out there. Obviously we all have our club loyalties and we will fight for success with our clubs until the end of the season, but then we will switch our attention to the World Cup. It's a long season and we can keep England in our minds, when we are together we will train hard and work as a group, we will try and be successful with our clubs and then go and try and do well at the World Cup.
"I grew up watching England whenever there was a tournament, I probably remember the 1990 World Cup more than any, but also the '86 tournament as well. 1990 was a great generation to watch with the likes of Gazza and Gary Lineker, I have a particular memory of David Platt's goal against Belgium. To be involved as a player was great, but just disappointing to go out in the way that we did. But hopefully we can come back better for that experience."