If you were to ask a Chelsea fan who their greatest ever player was, there’s a strong chance they’ll say either John Terry or Frank Lampard. The two simultaneously became legends at the club, taking part in Chelsea’s greatest success – winning three league titles, four FA Cups and even a Champions League together.
While one captained the side for 13 years and confidentially commanded the backline, the other worked his magic in midfield – becoming Chelsea’s all-time top goal scorer with 211 goals. They were inseparable during their time at the Bridge, but on Sunday, they will go head to head in Chelsea’s first game back against relegation battlers Aston Villa.
However, this isn’t the first time the two friends have faced off. Before their coaching careers, Terry and Lampard were once on opposing sides as players, with some matches perhaps more memorable than others…
On the East Side
You may be surprised to hear that the two stars first went against each other as early as 2001, when Lampard was still playing on the East side of London. Although they both began their playing careers with the Hammers (Terry trained with the Irons’ junior teams before transferring his youth career to Chelsea), Lampard spent six years in West Ham’s first team after making his debut in 1996.
Meanwhile, Terry was starting to become a regular with the Blues as he established himself in Chelsea’s defence. The centre-back made an impressive 23 starts during the 2000/01 season when he was just 19 years old, winning Player of the Year that campaign.
The two briefly met during a game between their sides that same year, as Chelsea went on to beat the Hammers 2-0 at Upton Park. Lampard started for West Ham, while Terry came off the bench to replace Graeme Le Saux for Chelsea in the last few minutes of the game.
Terry and Lampard would soon meet again, with the latter joining the Blues the following campaign. Back then, Chelsea supporters were blissfully unaware of the incredible relationship they was yet to form.
A Nightmare in Manchester
As the duo then spent 13 years playing side by side, it would be a long time before they would take on opposite ends of the pitch again.
Unfortunately, that time came in 2014 after Frank Lampard left the Blues and spent one campaign with fellow Premier League side Manchester City. The midfielder had signed a two-year contract with MSL club New York City, and then spent a year on loan with the Citizens – extending his stay in England.
Lampard’s first meeting with former club Chelsea occurred in September that season, resulting in a tense 1-1 draw at the Etihad. Every Chelsea fan will remember this encounter for the wrong reasons, as it was in fact Lampard who scored the equaliser that day, after the Blues went 1-0 up against Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Having been on the pitch for just seven minutes, Lampard was able to score in the final moments of the game – slotting one directly past Terry into the back of the net. His goal, which he refused to celebrate, meant Chelsea’s 100% winning run at the start of the 2014/15 campaign was broken. To this day, that moment is still painful to watch for any Blues fan.
Thankfully, his second appearance against his former club wasn’t half as dramatic as Chelsea gained another 1-1 draw against City. Once again, Lampard came on as a substitute – but this time, there were no nasty surprises in front of goal.
Although Terry and Lampard have only faced each other three times during their playing days, they have gone against each other on four occasions during their coaching careers. The first time was back in the Championship, where Lampard was managing Derby County and Terry took on his role as Assistant Coach at Aston Villa. Six months after Lampard’s appointment, the two met for the first time in opposing dugouts. Villa won the game 3-0, with Terry able to claim a clean sheet at Pride Park.
The second time round was even more humiliating for the former number eight, as the Birmingham side managed a convincing 4-0 win over their opponents. The most dramatic meeting, however, took place at Wembley Stadium where the sides met once more to determine their faith in the division. A play-off final between two close friends was bound to break a few hearts, and unfortunately for Lampard, it was those at Derby who suffered. Villa managed a 2-1 win, despite a late consolation from Jack Marriott, and were therefore promoted to the Premier League the following season.
However, things move quickly in the footballing world, and that same year Lampard was appointed as Chelsea’s new manager after Maurizio Sarri’s departure. With Villa now in England’s top tier, it wouldn’t be long before the two met again. In December last year, the Blues picked up a 2-1 victory over their newly-appointed Premier League opponents – and although it may be hard for Chelsea fans to choose between the two footballing legends, all of them will be rooting for Lampard come Sunday…
Perhaps one day we’ll have the privilege of witnessing the two men compete side by side once again, both coaching at their beloved Chelsea.