Sir Alex Ferguson wishes he made more of an effort to sign Frank Lampard.
The England international is a product of the famed West Ham United academy, and he was receiving plenty of attention during his time at Upton Park. In the end, it was Chelsea who took the plunge for his signature, paying their London rivals £11million for his signature in the summer of 2001 during the Claudio Ranieri era.
Lampard has gone on to have a remarkable career at Stamford Bridge, winning three Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League, four FA Cups and two League Cups. On a personal level, he is third in the club’s all-time appearance list and is just a goal away from levelling Bobby Tambling’s record of 201 goals.
Ferguson was interested in signing the 34-year-old when it looked certain he would leave the Hammers, but didn’t press his interest enough. And as the Manchester United boss prepares to welcome the midfielder and Chelsea to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, the Scot admits this is a source of regret to him.
“Lampard is fantastic,” Ferguson said in The Sun. “Unbelievable. I don’t think there’s a midfield player who will ever do those 200 goals again. It is quite phenomenal. I think the guy has had a great career, I must say. We looked at him at West Ham when he was a young player. I think you now regret not doing it. Where else could I get 200 goals?
“He has that great knack that Bryan Robson had of timing, coming into the box just at the right time. It’s all about timing for that kind of player. John Wark at Ipswich Town was another one. He was exactly that. He could time his runs into the box. And that value has got Lampard those 200 goals. Plus, I can’t remember Frank ever being injured. I always thought that maybe he wasn’t playing because they thought he was a little bit past it.”