Richard Wood column: The Rotherham United defender on Lampard, the ultimate pros' pro

He played for England more 100 times and scored more than 300 goals through his career. He is probably one of the best scoring midfielders we'll ever see.

Thursday, 9th February 2017, 5:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:49 am
Frank Lampard

Fellow professionals have spoken about his temperament, professionalism and dedication to the game. His work ethic was second to none and he was always trying to improve himself.

Any aspiring young footballer looking to make their way in the game need look no further than the recently-retired Frank Lampard.

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What a terrific role model.

His record speaks for itself, but his words on how he improved his game really opened my eyes to just how good a pro he was.

We all have weaknesses and Lampard knew and accepted what his were. He says he was never that quick as a kid, so had to get quicker. He would do extra training to stay on top of his game and he knew if he didn’t maintain a high standard in training he would fall behind. He always strived to be better. 20 goals a season was not enough. He’d then target 25, then 30.

To have a successful career in football, you need to take on this attitude. When making the grade in football, talent is not enough. There’s no point having all the ability if your not willing to work hard for the team, taking things easy. All the top players work their socks off.

I regularly meet people I went to school with and who I grew up playing football with and they’d often say to me: ‘I was a better footballer than you when we were young.’

I openly admit there were loads of lads who were probably better than me, more skilful and quicker, but none of these have gone on to have a good career in football. This is because, like Lampard, I had the drive, dedication and work ethic to become a professional footballer.

It doesn’t just happen.

Professional football isn’t handed to you on a plate, and once you do progress, it’s even harder to maintain. I’ve played with a lot of talented players whose careers seem to just fall away. It’s so frustrating to witness someone with exceptional talent not live up to their potential. Maybe it’s a sign of the times now where young pros are given big contracts, possibly getting too much too soon, and their mind-set changes. The drive and dedication seem to dwindle away.

In my eyes, no matter how old you are or how much money you’ve earned, the best players don’t relax and be content with themselves. They train hard every day and are great role models for others in the team.

Lampard complemented his talent with hard work and a desire to be the best. That’s a perfect recipe to flourish. Aspiring footballers and young pros, please take note and learn from this exceptional football player.