On Monday, soccer stud Frank Lampard announced that he won’t be returning to New York City FC for the 2017 MLS season.
He was introduced by NYCFC as one of the first stars that would join them in their inaugural season, but injuries reduced him to only 10 appearances in a playoff-less first campaign. He did get three goals, one of which was the fastest in MLS history against D.C. United on October 2, 2015. But even sidelined once he arrived he had a beneficial effect on the younger players on the squad.
Via NYCFC’s official website:
“On and off the pitch he has been a fantastic ambassador, NYCFC Sporting Director Claudia Reyna pointed out, “From the second he walked through the door, he’s set the example.”
He started the current season with a calf injury that kept him out and frustrated fans who wondered if they would ever see him take the field again with team captain David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. But once Frank finally was healthy, he was quite a force. This culminated in a hat-trick, the first by an NYCFC player, against Colorado Rapids on July 31.
His numbers were excellent as he played 19 games and scored 12 goals complimenting David Villa well as the team scored goals in bunches leading them to the playoffs as a second seed in the East. He was even enjoying New York City life in the process.
“I have very much enjoyed my time, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to play for such a great club and in such an incredible city,” Frank Lampard shared today.
He was quite an asset for new coach Patrick Vieira, who quickly saw the excellence of skill even at 38 years of age. But he also observed a man who served as an extension of the head coach being a teacher as well as a performer. These intangibles should serve NYC in the future.
“Everybody talks about Frank’s goal-scoring record from midfield but I can tell you after a year of working with him, he brings so much more,” VieIra explained, “It is clear Frank embraced playing in this league and for this club. I am grateful for his service in my first year here and wish him the very best in whatever he chooses to do next.”
These were examples of the strong emotions that were reflected from the club and fans alike for Frank in such a short time. Though he was contracted to be the scoring machine he had been throughout his storied career it was the side many don’t see from his relationships with his teammates that he will probably be remembered more for.
“What Frank brought to the locker room is something just as important- his experience, his elite mentality and his mentorship for the younger players of our squad have helped us greatly this year,” Vieira shared.
For New York fans, it would have been nice to see Lampard return to try to exceed expectations and make a run at an MLS Championship but the immense improvements of what is essentially an expansion franchise spoke volumes. Speculation has him returning as a player, coach, or in the studio, but whatever Frank does in the future he is sure to be successful as he has already left a winning imprint here for future generations of NYCFC Nation.