Dan Coker's Match Preview

Welcome to the latest in a series of articles designed for international weekends – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.

Today, as England prepare to face Croatia in the Nations League, we look back at a former Hammers and England midfielder. Frank Lampard Junior was born in Romford to West Ham left-back Frank Senior and Pat on the 20th June 1978, a month after the Hammers’ relegation from the top flight. He joined West Ham’s Academy in 1994, spent a spell on loan with Swansea in 1995 and won the South East Counties League in 1996, making the FA Youth Cup Final in the same year, although the Irons lost to Liverpool.

Lampard made his Hammers debut at the age of 17 on 31st January 1996 as a substitute in a 3-2 home win over Coventry; he made one further sub appearance in 1995/96 and made 16 appearances in 1996/97, although his season was ended by a broken leg suffered at Aston Villa in March 1997.

Lampard was a key figure in the Hammers’ ever-improving team in 1997/98, scoring his first goal for the club a minute after stepping off the bench on the opening day of the season, the winner in a 2-1 victory at Barnsley. Lampard made 42 appearances as the Hammers finished eighth, scoring nine goals, including a hat-trick in the League Cup fourth round against Walsall, who had future Hammer Jimmy Walker in goal. Lampard also scored the opener in a 3-1 defeat at Leeds’ Elland Road, replicating his dad’s jig round the corner flag at the same ground in the 1980 FA Cup semi-final by way of celebration. He made his debut for England Under-21s during this campaign, going on to captain the side.

Lampard made 41 appearances as the Hammers finished fifth in 1998/99, scoring six goals. Becoming renowned for spectacular strikes from distance, he notched long range strikes in home victories over Leicester and Middlesbrough, and also scored a penalty at Anfield’s Kop End in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool.

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Arguably Lampard’s best season in claret and blue was the 1999/2000 campaign, scoring 14 goals from midfield in 49 matches. He started the season in style, scoring four goals by the end of August – three in the InterToto Cup against Jokerit, Heerenveen and Metz, as well as the winner in a 1-0 home triumph against Tottenham. He also scored in the UEFA Cup against Osijek and bagged winners in Upton Park goalfests against Sheffield Wednesday (4-3) in November 1999 and Bradford in February 2000 (5-4). Lampard also made his full England debut under Kevin Keegan in October 1999, starting and playing 76 minutes in a 2-1 win over Belgium at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light – his cousin, Jamie Redknapp, scored the winning goal.

Lampard’s final campaign in east London, 2000/01, saw him bag nine goals in 37 games. He scored his only brace for the club in a 2-1 win at Bradford in February 2001 and signed off as a Hammer with three goals in his final four games. His last goal for the Irons was a penalty in a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle on 16th April 2001, with his final match for the club being a 2-0 home defeat to Leeds on 21st April 2001 – the visitors had 22-year-old Lampard’s youth team colleague Rio Ferdinand in their ranks. Lampard made his second and final England appearance while with the Hammers in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s first match in charge, as a half-time substitute in a 3-0 win over Spain at Villa Park in February 2001.

A few weeks later, Lampard’s father and uncle (Frank Senior and Harry Redknapp respectively) both left the club. Feeling that his position as a player at the club was untenable, Lampard sought a move and rejected Aston Villa to sign for Chelsea for £11m in the summer of 2001 – he had scored 38 goals in 187 appearances for West Ham United. My video below shows 37 of these 38 goals.

Lampard went on to become Chelsea’s highest goalscorer of all-time, scoring 211 goals in 648 appearances. He won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, two Community Shields, one Champions League and one Europa League during his time in west London. He won 106 caps for England, scoring 29 goals for his country. He represented the Three Lions at the 2004 European Championships, and the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups. He missed the 2012 Euros through a thigh injury.

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Lampard spent a season with Manchester City before ending his career at New York City FC in the United States. Lampard, now 40, is currently manager of Championship side Derby.

Croatia v England

England face Croatia this evening in the Nations League – it will be the ninth meeting between the two nations. The first competitive meeting between the pair resulted in a 4-2 win for the Three Lions in front of 57,047 at Lisbon’s Estadio da Luz on 21st June 2004, in their final Group B match of the 2004 European Championships. Britney Spears was number one with ‘Everytime’, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban topped the UK box office and Wimbledon were officially renamed as Milton Keynes Dons.

England were dealt an early blow when Hertha Berlin’s Niko Kovac gave Otto Baric’s Croatia the lead in the fifth minute. Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England equalised through Manchester United’s Paul Scholes five minutes before the interval before Everton wonderkid Wayne Rooney gave England the lead with a strike from distance right on half-time.

Rooney raced clear to make it 3-1 after 68 minutes but Juventus’ Igor Tudor pulled one back five minutes later. Former Hammer Frank Lampard Junior, the feature of today’s piece, wrapped up the win with 11 minutes left to make it 4-2. England would be knocked out by hosts Portugal in the quarter-finals.

Croatia: Tomislav Butina (Club Brugge), Josip Simunic (Hertha Berlin), Dario Simic (Milan), Boris Zivkovic (captain, Stuttgart), Robert Kovac (Bayern Munich), Igor Tudor (Juventus), Dovani Roso (Maccabi Haifa), Milan Rapaic (Ancona), Niko Kovac (Hertha Berlin), Tomislav Sokota (Benfica), Dado Prso (Monaco).

Subs: Ivica Mornar (Portsmouth) for Robert Kovac; Ivica Olic (CSKA Moscow) for Rapaic; Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk) for Simic.

England: David James (Man City), Gary Neville (Man Utd), Sol Campbell (Arsenal), John Terry (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Arsenal), David Beckham (Real Madrid), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Paul Scholes (Man Utd), Michael Owen (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Everton).

Subs: Ledley King (Tottenham) for Scholes; Darius Vassell (Aston Villa) for Rooney; Phil Neville (Man Utd) for Lampard.

The previous articles in the series are:

Jack Tresadern
Ken Brown
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Bobby Moore
Martin Peters
Sir Trevor Brooking
Alan Devonshire
Alvin Martin
Paul Goddard
Stuart Pearce
Joe Cole
David James
Robert Green