Former Arsenal and Manchester United star Robin Van Persie believes that Chelsea legend Frank Lampard was on the same level as a player as French great Zinedine Zidane.
During his heyday, Lampard was regarded as one of the greatest midfielders in Europe and in the Premier League. During his time with the West London giants as a player, Lampard went on to make 648 appearances in all competitions and scored 211 goals. During that time, he won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, one Champions League and one Europa League.
By contrast, Zidane is best remembered for his stints with Juventus, Real Madrid and the French national team. On a club level collectively with the two European giants, “Zizou” won three League titles, three domestic Cup titles, one Intercontinental Cup and one Champions League.
With Lampard and Zidane are both greats of their day, most would regard Zidane as being better. The reasons for that is because Zidane also went on to achieve greatness with France. Lampard went on to make 106 appearances for England and while he starred for his country, he never won a major trophy.
With France, Zidane won the 1998 World Cup and European Championship in 2000. He also starred for his country during the 2006 World Cup in Germany as Les Bleus went on to reach the final where they lost on penalties to Italy. Despite his nation finishing off as the runners-up during that tournament, Zidane was awarded the Golden Ball Award.
Despite Zidane being ahead as far as accolades go, Van Persie believes that current Derby boss Lampard was comparable to the current Real Madrid boss as a player. The Dutchman said, as quoted by The Mirror: “There was something fascinating about the way Frank Lampard operated on the pitch.
“For me, the art of being a great player is seeing things early and reading situations before others do. Luka Modric is brilliant at it – but Frank was the best of all.
“I heard that some coaches observed him once for 90 minutes and it was noted that Frank’s eyes looked all around the pitch about 1,000 times. When I heard about that, I took it on board and decided to work on that aspect of my game intensively.
“Most players need time to control a ball when they receive it. Their head goes down for a second and then it comes back up again – and, in that moment, you lose two vital seconds of decision-making.
“And when you play against world-class players, you don’t get that kind of space and time. You need to keep up the speed in the game. It is the only way you can surprise your opponents. So, during a match, I am always scanning the pitch for space, for positions, for opponents and for team-mates. The older I became, the more I did it.
“These days, I often play as a No.10 in midfield, which means I have three attackers in front of me.
“I have made assists for goals for team-mates by delivering my passes early. It is crucial to know who is where on the entire pitch. And because the situation is constantly changing, Lampard would look up a thousand times.
“It is very tiring. But if you have the picture in your head, that means you can play the fast ball. It is such an important option.
“Lampard used to do that – and I once saw Zinedine Zidane play the perfect match.
“In 90 minutes, I saw that he never once lost the ball. Simply because he was always aware what was happening around him.”