Frank Lampard has promised to visit the New York memorial dedicated to victims of the September 11 terror atrocity after insisting that he did not mean to insult them during an infamous drinking binge 13 years ago.
The incident has been raked up in the United States after it was confirmed that Lampard will play for New York City FC following his release from Chelsea.
The England midfielder was one of four Chelsea players fined two weeks’ wages in 2001 when they allegedly swore and vomited in front of shocked US tourists at a Heathrow Airport hotel just 24 hours after the terror attack on the Twin Towers.
Speaking at his unveiling as a New York player yesterday against the backdrop of downtown Manhattan which was once dominated by the towers, Lampard said: ‘I categorically did not set out to insult anyone or behave badly in front of the Americans and this is an excellent chance to say that. I’m very sensitive to the issue and the tragedy.
‘I was naive and a young boy at the time. I was out on a day I shouldn’t have been — I certainly wouldn’t do it today. I’ve tried in the last 13 years at Chelsea to be not just a good footballer, but a good man off the pitch.’
Asked if he would go the permanent memorial at what was once Ground Zero, Lampard replied: ‘It’s a huge memorial and I will certainly go there to pay my respects.’
Lampard will play for the Manchester City-owned club when the New York franchise launches in Major League Soccer next year, but is uncertain what he will do between now and January. Sources close to him ruled out a short-term move to City’s other sister team Melbourne.
‘Pre-season here will start mid-to-late January,’ he said. ‘I’ll have to train at the very top level, whether that’s on my own or with a club somewhere.
‘When we come here for pre-season I want to be ready to go. I want to fly out of the blocks. I don’t want to come out sluggish.’
Lampard also revealed that his uncle Harry Redknapp tried to persuade him to join QPR instead.
‘We had some conversations and so did my dad,’ he said. ‘But it wasn’t really an option for me. I had 13 years at Chelsea and it’s something very dear to me so it would have been difficult to play for a club so close.’
The 36-year-old has resisted the temptation to follow Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole into international retirement just yet. He won his 103rd cap when captaining England in their final World Cup group game against Costa Rica last month.
‘I’m going to make the decision very soon because the games start coming round soon enough,’ said Lampard.
‘I’ve enjoyed my time with England and I’m too proud an Englishman to make a decision like this lightly.
‘I didn’t need to see them (Gerrard and Cole) retire to know that the end will come for me at some stage. You get to a point when you just know. We need young players to come through. I’m not silly. I know it can’t go on forever.
‘Every player knows when it’s best for them. For some it’s when they’re 29 — others want to play as long as they can. If the Costa Rica game turns out to be my last one I’ll go out a very proud man.
‘It was a bad tournament for us but I’ll tell you what, I had a bit of a moment after the game. The reception we got off the fans — considering the way we’d played — it made me very proud to experience that.’ – Daily Mail