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Lampard: Playoff final as momentous as Chelsea’s Champions League qualification in 2003

History in the making?

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Leeds United v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship Play-off Semi Final: Second Leg Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Frank Lampard called getting to the Champions Playoff Final, after a ridiculously exciting 4-2 win over Leeds United at Elland Road, one of the greatest feelings he’s ever had in football, and that’s certainly saying something after a two-decade-long glittering playing career and trophy haul.

“In terms of personal achievement, the feeling is as much as I’ve had in football. It’s not the personal achievement of being able to win stuff at Chelsea, but in terms of how I feel right now, it’s up there.

”I was fortunate in my playing career in the Champions League, winning leagues. But when you come here at the start of the season and you feel the club and the fans and the position the club were in, to be here tonight, they’re heroes.”

“The pressure as a manager is more intense than a player. I wanted this so badly. You worry you want it too badly. I’m very proud. It means a great deal. From day one since I came in we have had issues, as every club has, and there have been ups and downs. We’ve done something that has not been done before.”

-Frank Lampard; source: BBC

Should Lampard manage to make it one step further, the feeling would surely be even more momentous, and not just for himself personally, but for the entire Derby County organization.

In fact, ahead of this afternoon’s Wembley showdown, Lampard’s compared the occasion to Chelsea’s fourth place finish in 2002-03, which doesn’t sound that impressive but quite literally changed the history of the club. It was that 2-1 win over Liverpool on May 11, 2003 — Jesper Gronkjaer, of all people, with the winning goal after my main man Marcel Desailly equalized — which secured Champions League qualification and which prompted Roman Abramovich to buy/save the club that summer (later, reports would emerge of just how dire things had gotten, again, under Ken Bates).

“If I can match it to something it will be the Chelsea game we played a long time ago just before Roman Abramovich came to the club. We had a game against Liverpool to make it to the Champions League. If we lost that game the club was in real trouble, and if we won then things would change. Although we didn’t quite know how well they would change.

“There was tension before that game among the players but I don’t feel that here. It’s a crucial game for the club but what I’ve tried to do is take that away from the players. I just want them to think about a football match. The lads don’t need to think about £170million, they don’t need to think about next year or their holidays. They just need to think about Monday.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Eurosport

That game in 2003 has often been called one of the “single most valuable” Premiership matches ever. Tonight’s game is the annual “Richest Game in Football”. Hundreds of millions are on the line once again.

And if that wasn’t enough, Lampard (and assistant Jody Morris, Chelsea legend Ashley Cole, and loanee duo Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori) will have to take on Aston Villa, who are led by goal-machine Tammy Abraham and have a defence coached by John Terry.

This one’s going to be a must-watch.

BONUS: Jamie Redknapp interviews his cousin.

When Jamie met Frank

"I'm scared to compare a play-off semi to a Champions League, because it does sound ridiculous, but for how I felt inside, it was similar." Can he clinch promotion with Derby County tomorrow? Jamie Redknapp sat down to interview his cousin Frank Lampard about his first season in management.

Posted by Sky Sports on Sunday, May 26, 2019

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