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Lampard accepts apology from ‘naive’ Ross Barkley for unprofessional behavior

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Late-night cab incident in Liverpool caught on camera

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Chelsea Press Conference Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chelsea players had the day off on Sunday after Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion, and Ross Barkley decided to spend it visiting his native Liverpool. The 25-year-old has been living alone in London ever since he joined Chelsea almost two years ago, so seeing his friends and family in person even for just a few hours is probably a welcome change. It’s not like it takes days to travel north in these modern times, after all.

It would appear that Barkley had himself a good time indeed, but as it can sometimes happen, the good times can lead to some less good times, especially when judged in retrospect. It’s all fun and games until someone spills chips in the back of a cab!

It’s unclear precisely what led to the incident between Barkley and the cab driver, but even the local constabulary were apparently involved before everything got smoothed over. No charges or reports were filed with police, and Barkley eventually procured the cash from an ATM to pay the driver (don’t they take cards or mobile payments these days??), and other than the bystanders taking great pleasure in the proceedings and gleefully recording it on their phones — welcome to 2019! — the incident passed without anything noteworthy happening.

That of course didn’t stop the tabloid headlines, nor did it mean that Barkley didn’t have to face the music and clear the air once he turned up at work on Tuesday, which he apparently did to Lampard’s satisfaction.

“In terms of permission, it’s not a problem to spend a day off in Liverpool. In the modern world the few hours to go up there and back is the least of my worries, especially when your family is there. It’s important for people to see them.

“To address the issue, he hasn’t [broken] a club code being out. The lads were given a day off on Sunday. He hasn’t committed a crime, other than eating chips in the back of a cab which is a bit out of order for the cabbie.

“But on a serious note, what he has done from my point of view has been naïve to be out on that evening, in the build-up to a Champions League game. He has admitted that as well, and very aware of that. On a professional level those are little things that shouldn’t happen.

“I like Ross and I have had no problem with him since he’s been here, in fact the opposite. He wants to do well for this club. This morning he admitted he made a mistake. I will take that one at face value, and we move on.”

The era of footballers going out on the lash before and after matches is long over. These days, such behavior is not part of the commonly expected set of behaviors from professional athletes. When it does happen, the minimum expectation remains to not cause a scene. While Lampard surely understands all that — it’s not like either he, or assistant Jody Morris for that matter, had incident-free playing careers, especially when they were in their early 20s — he also knows that players, as most public figures, are judged by different standards than everyone else. It’s part of the job, especially in these modern times.

“Unfortunately for them they live in a modern day. There are a lot of benefits, but there are difficulties that come with that. I don’t understand why, but people have to pick up their phone at first glance and video people in any moment that they think might be interesting to possibly sell or pass on. People will do that.

“What the lads need to do, firstly for their own benefit, and whether you’re a footballer or anybody growing up, is behave in the right way, and secondly be aware of the pitfalls.

“We have a very good bunch of lads at this club. I made mistakes as a player along the way, don’t we all. I have got confidence in them that they are professional lads who want to do the best for this club. They must take on their responsibilities off the pitch.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC

Hopefully Barkley, who traveled with the team to Lille, does learn from this incident, and like Lampard, goes on to become a model professional and role model.