Roman Abramovich will celebrate 1,000 games since his Russian revolution with a particularly fitting occasion at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was a major part of Abramovich’s early success when he was a player and is now determined to bring back the glory days as manager.
Football’s hand of fate has also played a part because Jose Mourinho – the manager who began the club’s new era of success during two trophy-laden spells in charge – will be at the landmark occasion as Tottenham boss.
Russian billionaire Abramovich helped transform Chelsea but also English football when he arrived in 2003 but Lampard insists they were not able to simply buy success.
Lampard said: “I’m very thankful for him doing what he’s done for the club because it changed my career as a player. Now I’m fortunate enough to be working at this fantastic club as a manager.
“Nothing we have achieved in the Roman Abramovich era could have happened without him or his support.
“It’s sometimes better with hindsight to look back over a period because the early days of the Roman Abramovich era would probably have put a lot of fans’ backs up that an owner came in and spent some money and we became successful pretty quickly.
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“But as time’s settled by you can see how we’ve done it, sustained success over a period of time, some of the recent actions during covid times have shown big heart and a real empathy from the owner, because it always comes from him, and from the club.
“I’m proud to have been associated with the club through thick and thin in those periods to be honest.
“As much as you can invest in football, you only win things through pure hard work and personnel on the ground. Whether you spend money or not in the modern day Premier League, it’s the work that wins it.”
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Chelsea have won five Premier League titles during the Abramovich era, three League Cups, five FA Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League twice.
It has been an incredible success story, life is never dull at Chelsea and, arguably, Abramovich’s intervention was a game changer for the Premier League.
Arsenal fell away as serious challengers because they could not compete financially, Manchester United had to step up, Manchester City were taken over themselves and Jurgen Klopp transformed Liverpool.
Abramovich’s own visa problems mean he barely gets to see his own team in the flesh despite investing hundreds of millions, turning the club’s hotel over to NHS staff in the pandemic and being one of the key figures in English football in the last 20 years.
Lampard’s ambition now is to get Chelsea back to those glory days and, after Abramovich backed the club in the market again last summer with the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech, the owner’s thirst for success is as strong as ever.
Lampard added: “I still feel we are in a real process. I cannot be happy until we get to what I feel is the end of that, although there probably never is an end to that as we always want more.
“But we are in the early stages and last year for sure with the ban, was transitional, and I felt the support of the club and we worked bloody hard to get in the Champions League spots, and now we have invested, now we want to improve, and I want to be a big help for that.”
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