Frank Lampard, in Amsterdam on the eve of Chelsea’s first appearance in the final of either the Europa League or its predecessor the UEFA Cup, is as excited as ever by the chance of touching silverware once again.
The Blues started the season with different targets but having now booked participation in next season’s Champions League qualifiers at least through our domestic league position, the season will be improved further if a new trophy is lifted in the Dutch capital on Wednesday evening.
The joy in that moment, if it happens, will not be diminished by knowing our defence of the Champions League finished at the midway point.
‘We’re talking about the highest level of club football in the world and you can’t have it your way every year,’ points out Lampard.
‘We were lucky enough to have a great run to the final last year and to win it, and this year we were disappointed to end up in the Europa League but the more we have been involved in it, the more we have grown to love it.
‘The closer you get to a final the more you want to be in it, and we have realised this is a huge European final. We are very much looking forward to it and we want to win it.’
Having the experience of winning on the European stage only a year ago, the vice-captain describes that memory as an inspiration for this coming contest, but adds:
‘Every game and every year is different. We were underdogs in Munich and the game panned out in our favour for a lot of reasons, but I have been lucky enough to play a few finals and they are very particular games. Small things that happen, focus and concentration, dictate the game, and whether it was Munich last year or tomorrow, we need our utmost concentration because Benfica are a very good team, as Bayern Munich were.
‘For all of us who had been involved with Chelsea for a long time, that was the big trophy we had missed out on. This is another outstanding one so all of us here, including the players who have just come to the club, want to win it.
‘We are now fourth in the Premier League at least and we want third, and it will be defined in terms of the success of the season by how we get on tomorrow.’