FRANK LAMPARD admits breaking down in tears after being publicly criticised by the uncle of a former team-mate.
The England legend, 45, became one of world football’s top midfield players during a 13-year stay at Chelsea.
Lampard, who finished second in the 2005 Ballon d’Or, scored a mind-boggling 211 goals in 648 games for the Blues.
And he left Stamford Bridge with a bulging trophy cabinet after winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a Europa League and a Champions League.
However, Lampard’s talent was regularly questioned at former club West Ham.
The then-teenager came up under the watchful eye of uncle Harry Redknapp.
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He went on to score 39 goals in 187 games during six seasons before Chelsea signed him for £11million in 2001.
But due to his family links at Upton Park, some fans blindly argued Lampard was not playing on merit alone.
Famously, he was criticised by the uncle of ex-Hammers team-mate Scott Canham during a fan forum in 1996.
Canham had been sold to Brentford that same year after Lampard, then 18 years old, took his place in Redknapp’s side.
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Canham’s uncle launched a blistering attack on Lampard by claiming he was not good enough to play for West Ham.
But Redknapp, Super Frank’s uncle, hit back with a fierce defence and insisted his nephew would go on to become a world-class player.
Reflecting on the incident, Lampard admits he was left deeply upset by the criticism.
The “devastated” midfielder could not understand why he was being picked on.
And Lampard “drove home in tears” before finding strength in Redknapp’s words.
He told ex-Chelsea team-mate Jon Obi Mikel on the Obi One Podcast: “I had no elation about what happened, that came after, respect for what he said.
“At the time I was sort of embarrassed, devastated, I was a young kid.
“This fella was an ignorant fella, he didn’t want to give me a chance, he was the uncle of Scott Canham.
“Nothing against Scott Canham, maybe something against his uncle, he wanted to have a pop at me in public which I thought was weak.
“At that point I didn’t take it in, I was sat there like I was the only man in the room, it was so nerve-racking for me.
“Harry’s words were amazing, incredible. But I was driving home in tears, this random man trying to put me in my place.
“I’m just trying to make it as a player, trying to get my foot in the first team, I was a West Ham fan.
“My period there was a bit like that, a lot of people wanted to question why I played, why my dad was the coach, my uncle’s the manager.
“I get that, ‘maybe he’s getting a leg up’, but it wasn’t true and I had to prove it not to be true.
“It definitely toughened me up, I’m thankful for it now, I became very tough for it.
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“On the Harry side, he went above and beyond what he could and should have said at the time.
“I think he was being more of a family man at the time, respecting and defending me, and I appreciate that whether I got to the top or not.”
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