How Frank Lampard rose above ‘nepotism’ slur

Cousin Jamie Redknapp is confident he’s the right man for Chelsea job

It came as no surprise when Chelsea announced that Frank Lampard would be their next manager.

If popularity with the fans was the only measure of success you could give him a trophy or two now.

However, Lampard will need more than that and, at London Inspire, we wish him well.

Friends who are Chelsea fans are hoping for the best, but several wonder if the appointment has come a season or two too early. Only time will tell.

There are at least a couple of parallels with Manchester United’s appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – both are club legends and comparatively new to management. But there are signs that the goodwill towards Ole is already a little stretched after his brilliant start. We hope Frank will not experience something similar. Lampard and Solskjaer will face each other in the season’s opener at Old Trafford.

Certainly Lampard has come a long way from his days as a youngster in a West Ham shirt. I recall a friend – an Irons season ticket holder – taking me to a match when the young Frank was playing.

Two rows in front of us was a supporter who obviously wasn’t a member of Frank’s fan club. Each time Frank miscontrolled the ball, passed the ball poorly or missed a tackle this guy was up on his feet screaming abuse.

It seems the fan felt that Frank Jnr was only in the team as a result of nasty nepotism. Dad, Frank Snr, was a coach at the club and uncle, Harry Redknapp, was the manager.

After four years Frank Jnr left Upton Park to join Chelsea, went on to become the Blues’ all-time leading scorer and a much-capped England international. Not a whiff of nepotism to be smelled. I would love to ask the mouthy fan if he still feels he only got a place in the first team on the back of family ties.  

The cousins face each other playing for Spurs and Chelsea

So, is Frank Lampard the right man for the Chelsea top job? Certainly, his former England playing partner, TV pundit and cousin (family again) Jamie Redknapp thinks so. The two are seen in our main picture when Frank made his England debut at the Stadium of Light on October 10, 1999. Picture: Daily Mail

In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, the Daily Mail website, Jamie says: “Even when Frank and I were kids, having a kickabout in great grandad’s back garden and taking turns trying to hit his wooden bird cage, I could sense something in him.

“We were only young, and I was the older cousin by five years, but he had a certain determination, a distinct hunger. We spent hours and hours together and I could see it.

“He didn’t just want to be a footballer – he wanted to be a great one.

“There was no red carpet rolled out in front of Frank; no shortcuts to success. He knew he would have to work hard to get his chance to make it as a professional and he succeeded, becoming a legend for Chelsea in midfield.”

If you would like to know the rest of Jamie’s thoughts on his cousin’s Chelsea appointment read the MailOnline exclusive here. 

A final thought … I’m sure Chelsea fans will be hoping that Frank Lampard can prove the doubters wrong again – much as he did that numptie from his West Ham days. Who would bet against him having more success at Stamford Bridge?

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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