- Premier League
Lampard: I could never have joined Man Utd
Frank Lampard has revealed he spent much of 2013 "fully expecting" to leave Chelsea this summer, but insisted that he would never have signed for another Premier League side.
Lampard, 34, who broke the club's all-time scoring record and signed a new one-year contract extension with the Blues earlier this month, admitted he had all but given up hope of prolonging his stay at Stamford Bridge.
Yet the club's attitude towards his future changed over the last couple of weeks and the midfielder is delighted to have signed a new deal.
Manchester United were strongly linked with a move to sign Lampard if he were to leave Chelsea, yet any notion of him joining another top-flight English club was quickly dismissed by the player himself.
"I can't imagine being anywhere else after playing for 12 years at Chelsea. I have a lot of respect for other clubs, particularly the top ones, but I couldn't do it," Lampard told talkSPORT.
"I have always been very comfortable at Chelsea. At 27, they were offering me new contracts when I still had three years left on my contract, but they are looking to the future now. I understand that. I was caught in a bit of a transitional period and they were looking to the future and I had to convince the club I could be a part of it.
"From January to March/April of this year, I thought it would have been my last season, but I never wanted to leave and I'm delighted we got the contract done because I love being at Chelsea and if I did leave, where could I go if I left Chelsea? It would either be a step down in quality or stay at Chelsea and that has happened in the end."
Lampard, who said he feared he would have "let the Chelsea fans down" if he had failed to break Bobby Tambling's record before he left the club, offered a glowing endorsement of Jose Mourinho ahead of his anticipated return to Stamford Bridge this summer.
"It's a presence and an aura to galvanise people," he said of Mourinho. "His personal confidence rubs off on people. Tactically he's very astute and while he might rub people up the wrong way, he gets the best out of players. I've never seen anyone do it like him before.
"He is brilliant with his team tactically, he is brilliant with his players and I think he is brilliant with the press. He made me believe I could be better than what I was. He convinced me I could really get to the top. Mourinho was the best, for me he was and took my game to another level."
Lampard added that despite all the managerial changes during his time at the club, the stability required to produce success has been provided by the star names who have been ever-present throughout Chelsea's most successful era.
"There is a real spine and determination in the team and everyone who comes in has to buy into the Chelsea way," he said. "It started with Dennis Wise. John Terry has taken it on, I took it on, the Didier Drogbas and the Petr Cechs took it on. The new guys that come in have to take it on or ship out.
"Stability would be great. Look at Fergie [Sir Alex Ferguson] at Man United, we'd all like it that way, but whether you agree with the way Chelsea do it, the trophies are there for all to see.
"Look at us winning the Champions League last season. We didn't win it like Barcelona did beating Man United at Wembley [in 2010]. We won it with a real determination and it was the same last week in the Europa League. A winning mentality."