The first memory
This first memory is not so much as meeting him but he is in the story so to me this memory is pretty upsetting on a personal term but I am very greatful for the experience it gave me. I’ll start from the beginning to the end.
Was playing for my Local team at U15’s just in a league match when I noticed them, we where very average that season but found us in the League Cup final. We where over in Redbourne playing some posh team who all turned up in suits, they had training kits for the warm up and then their actual kit, to them they thought we where scum as we came from Luton and we turned up, warmed up and played in our kit instead of getting changed. We had our Spectators and theres on the same side of the pitch but we noticed at the next pitch over we saw two guys with clipboards watching our match, we asked at halftime who they where to our manager who didn’t know anything so we carried on. We won that game 4-2 but only because their Keeper was sent off for close-lining our striker we got a penalty from it but our penalty taker was out cold on the floor and no one wanted to take as it would make us 3-2 up putting alot of pressure on the kicker. I put my hand up and said i’ll do it, just to say I wasn’t the most gifted player with skills and outstanding pace but more along the lines of a tactical knowledge with height and strength, good vision oh and a rocket instead of a right foot as many keepers I have faced with penalties have told me, at this point the two men with the clipboards where next to my manager watching.As I took the penalty I hit it with power into the bottom corner out of the keepers reach. By the end of the game the clipboard men had gone. Our manager had said they where scouts looking at my CDM partner (we played 4-2-3-1, he was also my best friend)and a few of the other team’s players, he also said that they would be along with a few more scouts and some youth coaches to our Cup Final game next week, we where buzzing and all up for the game along with congratulating my Teammate and best friend.
In the Cup final we where playing top of the League who we had drawn with both times we played them but they had still won the league with 5 games to spare. We had a chance a slim one but a chance. We played out of our skins that day but unluckily we still lost on penalties however so we where pleased with ourselves. We could see the guys with the clipboards in the stands all jotting down notes from our game. After we all received our medals and gone back into the changing rooms to reflect on the game. My friend was called out to see those scouts, 15minutes later he was back with a huge smile on his face saying he’s got a trial at Leeds United we all cheered and congratulated him, there was another knock at the door as we died down and I was asked to follow a guy in a training kit as someone wanted to see me. I met my dad outside a meeting room and he said ‘this is your choice son’ I didn’t know what he meant so we went into the room and there was two men at a table with a clipboard infront of them both in West Ham gear. They greeted us and we sat down and talked. They showed me the clipboard with what they had written and as they passed it over they said ‘we like your play style Alex’ As i read the clipboard it had bullet points of strengths and weaknesses:
Good passing and vision
Strong in the air and strong tackler
Reads the game and can see a opposition move before its happened
Very vocal, natural leader
Not blessed with great pace
Rarely wins 1-on-1
Needs to move forward and help attack more
Practice on being more accurate for shooting
I didn’t know I had half of these strengths at the time but I was still in shocked that I could be getting offered a trial at West Ham. We carried on talking for a while and they said I had potential to be a good Holding midfielder. So it was agreed I had a trial with West Ham, I was also offered a trial by Leeds but they where only looking for one CDM and in fairness I thought my friend was better than me anyway.
The trial was over 2 days at a private school outside of Cambridge, I was 1 of about 40 15year olds there. On the first day was just mainly fitness test’s and ball skills and shooting practice. I enjoyed the fitness test as I had made sure I was in tip top condition for the trial as this was my chance. I didn’t enjoy the ball skills to much as I didn’t have any skills just half decent ball control. The shooting was fun as we did everything from 1 on 1’s to penalties. I was pulled aside by the coaches along with a few other’s to do some more penalties and they videod us take 5 each. After dinner each one of us was called to have a meeting and half of us where being sent home. As I had my meeting they showed me the video of me taking penalties on a laptop they then showed me them again but at the end of the video they informed me that this was someone else taking those penalties years ago and I have a same style about a penalty. I then scanned my head for who played for West Ham youth and now plays professional. I thought of Terry, J. Cole popped straight into my head, they then went you take penalties like Lampard. I was shocked and happy at the same time, Lampard is my hero and to be compared to him was amazing. I was kept for the second day and tried even harder and pushed harder than the first day to show the coaches it should be me who should be signed. At the end of the day they told us that they would be in touch in the next few weeks.
In those few weeks I played in a tournament for my Local team and thats where it happened. We where playing in the Final against the Tournaments host’s and we where all getting kicked but we where kicking back as well. Near the end we where winning 2-1 and I had just passed the ball to set up an attack and a defender tackled me, high and ugly all I felt was pain as I tried to move it hurt more and as I looked down two of his studs had sunk into my knee and I was in increasing pain with blood spilling down my leg. I went to hospital and was there for a week in that week West Ham called and when they found out about my injury they didn’t want to sign me in case the injury reoccurs eventhough I did not do any ligament damage. I was distraught and didn’t know what to do. I was on crutches for 4 months, I was a lucky boy in that my ligaments where not damaged but the muscle around my knee was torn and mangled I spent 2 months learning how to walk again, then jogging and then final running. I did get back into football and still played for that local team but their adult team now but I don’t play with the same intensity like before I was injured.
This memory was his penalty he scored against Liverpool after when his mother died as when you saw him standing for the pen he looked drained and upset. He scored it and from then on he has dedicated all his goals to his mother, His celebration against Everton in the FA Cup was a tribute to his Dad who was ill at the time as Frank Snr. did exactly the same celebration against Everton is his playing days. This memory is just showing how a stand up man like Frank celebrate’s his goals he dedicates them to his Mum and Dad, he also if you don’t see it at home game’s he points to his Dad in the stands as they both know who the goal was for.
What are your best memories of Frank Lampard?