LONDON • Former team-mates and rivals paid tribute to Frank Lampard after the Chelsea great announced his retirement yesterday.
The former West Ham and Manchester City midfielder won every major club honour in 13 years at Stamford Bridge.
The 38-year-old, who earned 106 caps for England, left Major Soccer League's New York City FC in November after his contract expired.
In a statement on his Facebook page, he said he had taken the decision to retire despite receiving "a number of exciting offers to continue playing at home and abroad".
"After 21 incredible years, I have decided that now is the right time to finish my career as a professional footballer," he wrote yesterday - his wife Christine Bleakley's 38th birthday.
"Whilst I have received a number of exciting offers to continue playing at home and abroad, at 38 I feel now is the time to begin the next chapter in my life.
Frank Lampard scored against 39 different teams in the Premier League - more than any other player.
Lampard scored more goals from outside the box than any other player in Premier League history.
Number of consecutive Premier League appearances for the Blues - a record for any outfield player. His run began in October 2001 and ended in December 2005.
Goals for Chelsea - a club record.
"I'm immensely proud of the trophies I've won, of representing my country over 100 times and of scoring more than 300 career goals."
He is Chelsea's record scorer, with 211 goals since joining the club in 2001. Among his honours at Stamford Bridge were three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the 2012 Champions League win.
"I have many people to thank," added Lampard, who finished runner-up to Brazil's Ronaldinho in both the Ballon d'Or and Fifa World Player of the Year awards in 2005.
"I thank my parents for instilling in me the values of hard work, dedication and professionalism, values which I have carried with me in everything that I do. I am forever grateful for the support of my family, my wife Christine and my two daughters Luna and Isla."
He also gave special thanks to Chelsea and offered a glimpse of what his future might entail.
"Looking forward, I'm grateful to the FA for the opportunity to study for my coaching qualifications and I look forward to pursuing the off-field opportunities that this decision opens," he wrote.
His announcement was immediately met with a flood of tributes.
"I played with @franklampard No more words needed...," Eidur Gudjohnsen wrote on Instagram, attaching two pictures of himself and Lampard from their Chelsea days.
Former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, now at Arsenal, tweeted: "One of the best players ever to play the game! Congratulations to your incredible career!", while former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher wrote on Twitter: "After all those Chelsea battles & Frank Lampard now retiring, I can finally admit the respect I had for him & that he was a great player!"