Frank Lampard has thanked Chelsea fans for keeping his Blues “love story” alive when he moved to Manchester City.
Jose Mourinho criticised Lampard’s City switch when the former England midfielder scored against Chelsea in a 1-1 Premier League draw in September 2014.
Lampard spent 13 years at Chelsea before enjoying a Premier League swansong with City, with then Blues manager Mourinho claiming the midfielder had ended his Stamford Bridge love-in by joining a direct rival.
Mourinho vowed in 2015 that his affection for Chelsea meant he would never manage Tottenham, but the Portuguese went back on his word this week and took the helm at Spurs.
Lampard will return to City as Chelsea boss in Saturday’s Premier League clash, insisting the Stamford Bridge fans will always have control of his overall status at the club.
“The bigger picture on that one for me is that the love story, or not, is probably always decided by the fans and the club, and it is proven now I am here managing the club,” said Lampard.
“But even then I think a lot of people understood how I felt about Chelsea, always did, always will do, regardless of the year at Manchester City, so I have got no problem with that.”
Asked about Mourinho’s criticism of his move to City back in 2014, Lampard continued: “At the time I didn’t feel it was quite right, I have to say that.
“It was directly after the match and sometimes the emotions of the match, whether I scored the equalising goal, can affect the comment or type of comment.
“But I think it was more a comment made in the emotions after the match.”
Chelsea’s fans consistently chanted Lampard’s name when the Blues faced City that year, leaving the current Stamford Bridge chief still humbled by the reception.
Asked if that tribute from the Chelsea supporters even brought him closer to the club despite having signed for City, Lampard said: “Maybe, yeah.
“I think the reaction of me going to Manchester City, which was something I was concerned about after 13 years here; I wondered at 36 whether a year there was something I should take on because of what I feel about this club.
“And then my professional head, the challenge of it and the period I had where I wasn’t going to be playing before going to New York, all came together and made me take a decision which was quite tough at the time.
“But to see then the feeling I got from the Chelsea fans on that day was an emotional thing for me and it hasn’t stopped from that day.
“Then, on the bigger picture for me personally, practically to have a year in Manchester, and I didn’t realise because I wanted to finish my career here at Chelsea… It didn’t work that way, but the year in Manchester, in terms of what I’m doing here now, was perfect for me because it opened my eyes to another club, another structure, another dressing room, another coaching philosophy, another idea.”
Mourinho has jumped into the hot seat at Spurs after the north London club sacked Mauricio Pochettino this week.
Lampard insisted he could never follow Mourinho’s lead and manage Spurs, however.
When asked if he could ever envisage coaching Spurs, Lampard replied: “I can firmly say no, and you can replay that again in 10 years.
“It wouldn’t happen, but I think things are different for me.
“I was here for 13 years as a player and have an absolutely deep feeling for a club.
“Chelsea is certainly so close to my heart, hence why I am so proud to manage the club and why I wouldn’t manage Tottenham.
“That’s no disrespect to anyone, it’s just because of what Chelsea has given me over my time as a player and now. It’s certainly not on my list.”
Asked if he was surprised Mourinho took the helm at Tottenham, Lampard continued: “That’s only his decision, and you make that decision as you go.
“He’s managed a lot of football clubs and that’s what happens.
“If fans judge you that’s out of your hands. As a professional you have to understand the right to work.”