The New York City Football Club, the newest member of Major League Soccer that will begin playing in 2015 at Yankee Stadium, announced the signing of Frank Lampard at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Thursday morning. It’s a two-year deal rumored to be worth $8 million per season.
Lampard, 36, is a World Cup veteran, longtime European star, English club Chelsea FC’s all-time leading goal scorer and the English Premier League’s highest scoring midfielder ever with 211 career goals.
“I am really excited about joining New York City FC and helping to play a real part in building something special in one of the sporting capitals of the world,” Lampard said. “The passion of the nation’s fans at the World Cup was second to none and I am looking forward to meeting New Yorkers and tapping into their love of the game.
“It is a privilege to be able to help make history here in New York City. I just can’t wait to get started and be part of it.”
During his career, Lampard won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, a UEFA Champions League title, a Europa League Championship and earned 106 caps for the English national team. He’s leaving Chelsea after 13 years on the team.
“Simply said he’s one of the greatest players in world history,” said Claudio Reyna, NYCFC’s director of football operations. “He’s a professional, a leader and he ticked all the boxes for us in terms of qualities to help grow our team.”
Fans at the press conference showed nothing but support for Lampard, but he is infamous in New York City after he drunkenly harassed grieving American tourists at a Heathrow airport hotel on Sept. 12, 2001. During the incident, he reportedly stripped naked and swore at tourists before he vomited in front of them.
“I was naive and a young boy at the time and I have some regrets to the fact that I was out and about,” said Lampard, who added that he plans to visit the 9/11 memorial. “I do want to say I categorically didn’t set out to insult anyone or behave badly in front of Americans or anyone. I’m very sensitive to the issue and the tragedy.”
With so much time before the NYCFC debuts in 2015, there have been rumors that Lampard may be loaned out to Australian side Melbourne City FC, but Reyna said those talks were premature. Reyna did add that it is a possibility.
It’s still unclear whether or not Lampard will continue his career with the English national team. Captain Steven Gerrard announced his retirement from the team last week so there has been some speculation Lampard could do the same.
“In terms of England, I’ve not had a lot of time after the World Cup,” Lampard said. “Getting my personal future was the most important, now I have to think about England. Now [that] I know where I will be playing my football, I can make that decision and I will do soon.”
Lampard is the fourth player on the NYCFC roster and the second international player. David Villa, who won the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Spain, signed back on June 1. NYCFC has also signed MLS’ Jeb Brovsky and goalkeeper Josh Saunders.