Antonio Rudiger has told Frank Lampard he is in the right frame of mind to face Southampton after the racist abuse storm at Tottenham.
Rudiger is determined to return to action today despite being shocked and angry after alleging that monkey chants had been aimed at him during a flashpoint in Chelsea’s win on Sunday.
Head coach Lampard spoke to Rudiger on Christmas Eve to reiterate his support and assess the defender’s state of mind after he played on to help Chelsea win 2-0 against their London rivals.
The Germany defender, 26, is leaving the two clubs and authorities to deal with the issue and wants to turn his attention to Southampton’s visit to Stamford Bridge.
It is not the first time Rudiger has had to try to focus on his football after being targeted. He was racially abused by Lazio fans and their Bosnian midfielder Senad Lulic while at previous club Roma.
UEFA also investigated claims he was targeted by Roma fans during a Champions League tie at Stamford Bridge in October 2017 following his move to Chelsea. UEFA closed that case, reportedly due to insufficient evidence.
Rudiger (right) issued his own response to the Spurs incident on social media, ending a lengthy post by saying: ‘It’s just such a shame that racism still exists in 2019. When will this nonsense stop?’
Lampard, just as he did after striker Tammy Abraham was targeted online in the wake of his Super Cup penalty miss against Liverpool, quickly offered strong backing to Rudiger, saying: ‘I’m sure it is very upsetting to say the least. I used to take some real strong personal abuse and so did my team-mates. It upset me at the time. To think how Tammy or other players in the situation would feel when it is fundamentally wrong and something that will be painful for them ... it’s hard for me to answer [if it affects their confidence] because I am not them. All I can do is support them, work with them and hope it doesn’t because the reason those boys are here and on the pitch is to try to win.’
The Rudiger incident, following a clash with Heung-min Son which saw the Spurs man sent off, is the latest in a long line of unsavoury incidents blighting the game.
Lampard believes parents have a major role to play in helping eradicate the problem.
He said: ‘We need to work on the education, how people grow up, school them, how parents educate them and not just on the racism issue but on the all-round issue, how you respect the person standing next to you in the street or whoever I think that is the case.
‘One thing I always think about is not just my schooling but I particularly think about how my mum raised me and the manners she would have put in me.
‘If she thought I was being disrespectful to anyone without good cause or without reason she certainly would have told me at a young age.
‘I’m no saint, I’m not perfect but it starts with parenting.’