On the anniversary of the day his goals sealed Chelsea’s first ever Premier League title, Frank Lampard is someone we just had to hear from.
In this interview and ahead of tonight’s Watch Party and the reshowing of the game, the current boss thinks back to 30 April 2005 and recalls what it was like before the game, what it was like to put those two goals past Bolton Wanderers and of course, the celebrations that followed.
Here's what he had to say...
How much tension was there ahead of the game? The games leading up to it had been relatively smooth, with importantly avoiding defeat against closest rivals Arsenal and then beating Fulham. Did it feel like if we didn’t win it against Bolton we would win it in one of the next three games anyway?
We were aware of that but at the same time, there was the tension after 50 years without winning the league and the pressure that mentally comes with vying at the top of the table. We had the Liverpool games in the Champions League running alongside that as well so we were very keen to get over the line as quick as we could and we probably put pressure on ourselves as much as anything. We went up there and treated it like it was a last game of the season. We didn’t in the first half in terms of how we played but mentally we certainly did.
What was the talk like ahead of kick-off, knowing this could be the day after 50 years for the club, and one of you could score the goals that did it?
To be honest I don’t remember the exact talk before the game. It is a sad state of affairs when you start forgetting all these things! I remember the general tension and I guess that talk would have gone on before. We were a very strong group but even at that point, which is quite early in our time together for that group that went on through the years, we had personalities and we certainly weren’t short on knowing what it would have meant, that history was in the making potentially.
We had good speakers before the game, whether it was John, Didier, myself, the core group who would normally speak. We would have built ourselves up into a bit of a frenzy to get ourselves into the right mindset to go and do it on the day.
Given the goalscoring form you were in, did it go through your head that it could well be your goals that made the difference?
I was confident because I had been on a good run. I had a bad patch earlier in the season when I didn’t score for a while but I got into good nick before Christmas and I had a good run towards the end. I didn’t really think like that but I was always one who just prepared for a game as well as I could. If I did as well as I could in a game then goals maybe were a consequence of that.
Those things normally fall on the striker but I had been scoring pretty freely that year, it was the first year I scored those sorts of numbers around the 20s. But I didn’t expect to be the man to score the two. That was a nice twist of fate for me personally.
The first half has pretty uneventful, the ball was in the air a lot. What was it like at half-time? Can you remember what was said? What Jose said?
It was a strange first half because Bolton at the time messed your game up, they made it difficult. Kevin Davies was always difficult to play against for us. You struggled to get momentum when they broke the game up like they did. That was how they played and we were slightly off it. Sometimes whatever you do before the game you can be slightly off it so at half-time we thought we had lost 45 minutes of opportunity.
We had talked about winning the league and we built that up before the game but it was a little reboot at half-time – come on, we have 45 minutes to do this. We used that as something to spur us on.
That first goal was the Lampard-Drogba combination in its early days.
It developed over the years but I felt a good connection with Didier at the beginning because of how selfless he was and his attributes. Not only could he score those goals as he went on to do but he set me up a lot. The best thing about that is you could trust making those runs consistently and feel that he will find you, flick it on to you, chest it to you, hold it up and put you in. That was something I was obviously grateful for.
When I look back now I know how fortunate I was to play with some of those players and I took a chance on the run, he got a nick on the ball. As soon as I got it I thought how quickly can I get it onto my right foot and get a shot away.
Was your head clear at that point?
Sometimes those things go in slow-motion in your head. I was trying to do things as quickly and as efficiently as I can. I always used to joke with Tal Ben-Haim after he joined Chelsea how I managed to run past him, cut across the front of him and then cut inside him. I tried to be pretty focused when I got into the box with things like that. Because the ball was bouncing a bit, that helped me focus even more because I needed concentration to get nice touches to make the chance for a shot. It just kind of opened up in the end.
You no doubt remember Petr Cech having to prevent an own-goal by Geremi to keep the score 1-0.
Pete did that for years. We all knew within how great Pete was and how important but sometimes keepers don’t get the credit at the time. I have been watching so many highlights of games again during this current period and you can forget how many games he saved us in at different moments. As a goalscorer it is very easy to take credit but you needed Pete doing those things and I remember him plucking that one out after a long throw-on. He always made those saves.
The second goal was a superb breakaway…
It was like a surprise really. It was nothing planned because when you end up with Claude Makelele playing the ball from where he did and Ricardo Carvalho being up there with you, that is not like a planned counter-attack from a defensive position.
I saw space open up. Bolton threw everything into our box and I was surprised to see the space in front of me. I was just pleased that Maka spotted me and played the ball and then I had the blinkers on. I did not think about anything else but trying to score. I was not one to round the keeper normally, that was not usually my game, but it was just more instinct in the end.
The TV shots of you celebrating with the Chelsea fans at that end of the ground are iconic, but what was it like looking into that stand each time you scored?
It was something that gives you goose bumps when you look back. My parents where there on the day behind the goal which was different for me. They would normally sit in the hospitality or the directors’ box. That was great fate really because that is exactly where you would want to be with the way it developed.
It was just madness in there. Fifty years of pent-up excitement from our fans, you could feel it with the players. When the first one went in, I know Bolton had a chance after that, but you felt like that was it and it was just a party atmosphere. It is something I will always treasure. They are not my best technical goals but emotionally it is right up there at the top.
Celebrating as a group, you see the subs jumping on and Jose Mourinho running down the line. The Chelsea away fans are incredible. The Chelsea fans are generally but the away fans that travel, I had them there when I broke the goalscoring record and sometimes you want to do those things at the Bridge but to do them away, you get those fans who go through the years travelling and spend their money and support Chelsea when we go up north on a Monday night mid-season, and then they come to games like that which are memories for a life-time.
Those goals meant you were now Chelsea’s leading scorer for the season. Guess that didn’t even enter your head at that stage?
Not at that point. I was certainly proud of it. I did always love to score goals and it was a big deal for me. I set myself targets and it was the first season I managed 20 goals and I was very happy with that. I did kind of know that but on the day it was purely about the group.
We had become a tight group over the year with the manager and the players, and we hadn’t won as a group, it was fresh to us. The celebrations as you see them were exactly how it felt. We were very much together, a group of mainly young lads that had a real bond to the club instantly and you saw that in the years that came after.
The owner famously joined in the celebrations on the pitch.
That was nice, that was special. You shouldn’t expect owners to be there every moment with you because that is not how it works but you could feel his passion for what he had come to and what he had come to buy for Chelsea. He also bought into it on an emotional level and when he came onto the pitch there it was great seeing the human side and all of us together splashing champagne around.
You threw your shirt into the crowd after the game. You weren’t tempted to keep that one?
I was never a huge keeper of shirts. I have got a fair collection of ones I have swapped with players I was fortunate enough to play against but my own ones, I tried to collect a few as I went through as I thought I should, but I am definitely an advocate of the memories are the most important thing.
In terms of medals I loved them, and the shirt you wore on the day, but I can get shirts all the time and we wear so many through the years and when you have the fans who have travelled up there, for me the memories are the important thing and if you have a moment when you want to throw your shirt or boots in then that is all part of it. I enjoyed that part of it.
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