NEW YORK: Chelsea’s all-time top scorer Frank Lampard yesterday announced that he had signed a two-year contract with Major League Soccer franchise New York City FC, but his England international future remains uncertain.
The 36-year-old midfielder played for England last month in the World Cup but says he has not yet decided on his national team status.
“In terms of England, I’ve had a bit of time after the World Cup, which was obviously a huge disappointment,” Lampard, who has 106 international caps, said.
“I now need to think about England and think about what I want to do next. Now I know where I’ll be playing my football next year I can make that decision.”
Lampard scored 211 goals in 13 seasons at Chelsea where he won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and the 2012 Champions League.
“It was a good time for myself and Chelsea that I moved on,” Lampard said.
“Chelsea will always have a huge part in my heart. I wish Chelsea the best.”
The Blues replied on Twitter, saying, “Wishing Frank Lampard the very best of luck in New York! SuperFrank.”
Lampard joins a team that signed ex-Spain star David Villa to a three-year deal last month and is guided by sporting director Claudio Reyna, a retired US star, and coached by Jason Kreis.
“Simply said he’s one of the greatest players in world history,” Reyna said. “He’s a professional. A leader. He ticked all the boxes in terms of the qualities to help grow our team.”
Lampard called the US move a challenge to his talents instead of a risk to his legacy.
“It’s not a risk. It’s a challenge,” he said. “I will give everything to be in the middle of that challenge.
“I want to carry on challenging myself. I want to be that leader on and off the pitch.
“I’m coming to a great city and I want to show that I can play great football and be a great personality in the locker room.
“I will fight to make NYCFC a club that New Yorkers will be proud of.”
Lampard says he is ready for hotter, more humid conditions playing in a US campaign that runs from March to October.
“I’ve played in hot and humid conditions before,” Lampard said. “It’s a challenge I look forward to and I know I will be able to take that on. I’ve been watching games in the MLS for a long time back home. It’s a great opportunity and great challenge for me.”
The club, a joint effort between Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees and English Premier League side Manchester City, will launch its inaugural season next year, playing out of Yankee Stadium until a planned new park is completed.
Lampard likes the city and the team’s long-term plans to become an MLS contender, with signings already drawing comparisons to the 1970s New York Cosmos and the city’s football glory days with Pele and Franz Beckenbauer.
“Why not chose New York City? It’s a very exciting challenge for me in life terms,” Lampard said. “I’ve seen a real long-term plan and I wanted to be part of that. I want to test myself.”
Lampard could follow a similar path to that of Villa, who will play on loan at Australia’s Melbourne City before returning to New York for whom training begins in Febraury.
“We’re going to use the rest of the week to make a decision that’s best for the club in terms of getting him ready for 2015,” Reyna said.
Added Lampard: “I’m going to keep fit. That is the main thing. How I do that is not clear yet. I’m going to sit round with people at the club and sort that out.”