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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 November 2005, 17:21 GMT
Redknapp hails fantastic Lampard
By Dan Warren

Frank Lampard
Harry Redknapp has revealed that Frank Lampard has become an even better footballer than he predicted.

Lampard set a new record of 160 consecutive Premiership appearances during Chelsea's 2-0 win at Portsmouth.

The 27-year-old also scored a penalty as the Blues extended their lead at the top of the table.

"I couldn't say I knew he was going to become the player he has today," Redknapp, who managed Lampard for seven years at West Ham, told BBC Sport.

"I'd be a liar if I said that. But he always had great attitude and talent."

Lampard moved past goalkeeper David James' record of 159 consecutive appearances for Liverpool.

Southampton manager Redknapp - who is also Lampard's uncle - said the achievement was "fantastic".

He said that James' position as a goalkeeper made it easier to set a record for consecutive appearances.

"Midfield's a tough position, you can get bookings and get suspended and you can get injured quite easily," he said.

"As well as that you've got Chelsea who are the club which has used the rotation policy more than any other."

Lampard was 16 and had just signed professional terms when Redknapp took over as Hammers boss in 1994.

Redknapp said it was tricky for the youngster in his early seasons at Upton Park.

He admitted a minority of fans gave the young Lampard abuse, feeling his selection was down to the fact that his uncle was Hammers manager and his dad - Frank Lampard Sr - was a coach.

FRANK'S FIRSTS
First League appearance:
7 October 1995 v Bradford*
First League goal:
31 October 1995 v Brighton*
First P'ship appearance:
5 May 1996 v Sheff Wed
First P'ship goal:
9 August 1997 v Barnsley
First England appearance:
10 October 1999 v Belgium
First England goal:
20 August 2003 v Croatia

(* Scored while on loan at Swansea from West Ham)
"He walked on the pitch at West Ham and got almighty stick and lots of kids would have been finished by that," he said.

"There were one or two idiots shouting at him, saying 'you're only playing because your uncle's the manager and your dad's a coach'. That was a young kid, it was horrendous really.

"But it didn't bother him, he believed in himself and look at him now - who's had the last laugh?"

Redknapp said Lampard's attitude was the key to his emergence as a world-class midfielder.

"Everybody else would have gone home, but Frank would come back to the training ground on his own in the afternoon and train," he said.

"He'd be out there, practising his shooting, he'd put his spikes on and do his sprints. He had a fantastic attitude, he wanted to succeed and that's why he's become a top player. It was exceptional.

"You can tell a million kids to train hard and work at their game and practise and they go 'yeah, yeah' and probably do it for two days and forget all about it. But Frank was determined to do it. He's got a strong character."

But the Saints boss said luck has played its part in Lampard's remarkable run of consecutive games.

"He is tremendously fit - but he's lucky as well with injuries. You only need to get caught in the wrong tackle from the side, you do your knee and you're out," he said.

"You need the luck and Frank will be the first to admit that. But he is very fit and wants to play all the time.

"He's not been suspended either. But Frank knows the game is not about trying to look tough, nor is it about getting involved in nonsense. He gets involved with his game, he's strong, he's aggressive but he does it in the right manner.

"I think (current Chelsea boss) Jose Mourinho has given him the confidence, and so did Claudio Ranieri before him.

"But certainly Mourinho believes in him, and I think Frank believes in Mourinho. They get on great and it's all good for him.

"He's at a fantastic club and playing in a great team. Football couldn't be better for him.

"No-one deserves this more than he does."




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