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Page last updated at 09:19 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 10:19 UK

Grant praise for 'brave' Lampard


Grant happy to 'make history' with Chelsea

Avram Grant paid an emotional tribute to Frank Lampard after he guided Chelsea to the Champions League final six days after his mother's death.

Lampard's extra-time penalty helped the Stamford Bridge club to a 4-3 aggregate victory over Liverpool and the Chelsea boss said: "Frank is a brave man.

"Frank was very close to his mother and what has happened to him over the last few days has not been easy.

"He played extremely well and is a little bit happy now."

Frank Lampard
An emotional Lampard celebrates his crucial injury-time goal

On his return from compassionate leave, the midfielder calmly converted his spot kick before wheeling away on an emotional celebration.

After kissing the black armband worn in tribute to his mother, Pat, he pointed to his father, Frank senior, in the crowd in a sentimental moment.

Lampard walked from the pitch to tumultuous applause when he was replaced by Andriy Shevchenko shortly before the final whistle.

And Grant added: "It was his decision to play and he played extremely well. We spoke about it yesterday and it was decided he should play then."

Grant had his own reasons for celebrating Chelsea's historic victory.

At the final whistle the Blues manager knelt on the pitch and offered a prayer in remembrance of his family members killed in the Holocaust.

We have created history and I am very proud we did it my way

Chelsea boss Avram Grant

The Israeli is due to visit the concentration camp at Auschwitz on Thursday to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.

"It was not an easy day for me," he said. "It is Holocaust Day in my country and I was thinking of my father, who buried my grandfather with his own hands, and I am very proud of what we did.

"It was very emotional. I owe a lot to my parents. My father survived the Holocaust and had to bury many of his family but he is the strongest and most optimistic man I have ever met."

Grant controversially replaced Jose Mourinho in September 2007, less than three months after joining Chelsea as director of football.

Mourinho won successive Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006, and reached two Champions League semi-finals, but Grant has now led Chelsea to a first ever final in Europe's elite club competition.

Avram Grant
Grant celebrates at the final whistle
Liverpool beat Chelsea at the semi-final stage in the 2005 and 2007 and Grant said he was proud to have achieved something predecessor had failed to manage.

"There's only one 'special one'," he joked.

"But this was special against Liverpool. They are a fantastic team and Rafa played tactically. You need to be clever against him but we did it.

"We have created history and I am very proud we did it my way. But I don't like to say 'I' because (owner) Roman (Abramovich), he created this club, my staff are excellent, my assistants, everybody."

"To create history at this club in my first year as manager, with all the difficulties we have had...we stuck together and did everything like I like to do things - in a positive way with a lot of thinking and it means a lot to me."

Having been a losing semi-finalists in three of the last four years, captain John Terry felt his side deserved their place in Moscow on 21 May.

"It's fantastic. I think we've fully deserved it over the years," he said before paying tribute to Lampard.

"What a character he is. It's been a terrible week for him and his family.

"Frank played very well and in my opinion was one of our key players today. It is not an easy thing he is under. He gave everything to the team."

Team-mate Jole Cole added: "To even be able to play, put in the performance he did, step up and take the penalty and score - I just can't put it into words what I think about Frank.

"I have known Frank for a long time and I know what kind of a fella he is.

"I don't think he gets the plaudits he should do. He is a great player and a great man and to do what he did at a time when other things are going on his life, I just take my hat off to him."

After Fernando Torres had cancelled out Didier Drogba's opener, Sami Hyypia brought down Michael Ballack and Lampard stepped up to make the score 3-2 on aggregate in extra time.

Drogba scored his second of the game to make it 3-1 on the night and 4-2 overall, before Ryan Babel's long-range effort made for a nervous finish.

"It is something amazing," said Drogba. "Today we did very well. I am really pleased for the club because we've been looking for this final for too long."

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez had stoked up controversy before the match by accusing Drogba of diving and claiming he had a dossier of the striker's past antics.

Drogba, who led Chelsea's line magnificently on Wednesday, made a point of celebrating his first goal right in front of the Liverpool bench.

"Benitez is a fantastic coach and I was a bit disappointed but I think he felt his team was not strong enough and Chelsea were going to beat them," he said.

"I am just happy for my team and I don't want to think about others. It's not good for my image. I'm giving my best to put my team at the top and I think it's not fair but it's finished."

see also
Chelsea's dignity and bravery
01 May 08 |  Europe
Lampard reveals family heartache
23 Apr 08 |  Football
Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool (4-3)
30 Apr 08 |  Europe
Player Rater
30 Apr 08 |  Europe
Champions League photos
30 Apr 08 |  Europe
Fans await Russian visa details
30 Apr 08 |  Europe
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
22 Apr 08 |  Europe

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