‘I’ll never forget’ were the words of Everton boss Frank Lampard in a classy message of thanks to West Ham, so is it time to bury the hatchet?
Everyone knows the history between West Ham United and Frank Lampard junior.
There has been no love lost between West Ham fans and the Academy of Football graduate turned Chelsea legend over the years.
Some Hammers fans have taken a great deal of stick over their treatment of Lampard since his move to Stamford Bridge all those years ago.
But the saga has been misunderstood and misconstrued over time.
While suggestions of nepotism when Lampard was an emerging talent were regrettable, Lampard was no saint in the bitter relationship.
Lampard and West Ham, a rivalry misunderstood
The Everton manager was a massive West Ham fan as a kid, watching his dad, Frank Senior, carve out legend status at the club.
But the relationship between Lampard and the then Upton Park faithful turned sour when he was sold to London rivals Chelsea and claimed he was not liked by supporters.
Lampard went on to criticise the club and its fans on numerous occasions and received abuse from the terraces whenever the two clubs met.
The fact he would invariably kiss the Chelsea badge to antagonise them further when he inevitably scored against his old side did not help matters, nor did the proclamation that he is Chelsea’s biggest fan.
They say time is a great healer. But Hammers fans continue to sing chants about Lampard during matches.
And that particular terrace ditty will undoubtedly ring out at Goodison Park when Lampard’s Everton welcome West Ham on Sunday.
In retirement, though, away from the adrenaline of competing against his boyhood Hammers as a player, Lampard seems to have a more measured, mature outlook on his relationship with the club who helped shape his career.
‘I’ll never forget’ was Everton boss Lampard’s classy message of thanks to West Ham, so is it time to bury the hatchet?
“I’ve got complete respect for West Ham,” Lampard said in his pre-match press conference when asked how he feels about his old club.
“I came through as a young man there, young boy actually, as a West Ham fan, came through the academy and moved on to Chelsea and Chelsea obviously became my club, as such, as a player in my playing career.
“But I’m very thankful to people (there), particularly Harry Redknapp who gave me my opportunity in the first team, Tony Carr who helped me massively in the youth team there and the academy, who helped not just myself but numerous players who have gone on to do great things in the Premier League and internationally.
“So I’ll never forget those things.”
It is not the first time Lampard has spoken in complimentary terms about West Ham since retiring.
He refused to take media baiting over facing West Ham when Chelsea boss.
And despite seeing his Blues side beaten by the Hammers at Stamford Bridge, he took time out to congratulate former West Ham teammate Alvin Martin and his son David, who had been man of the match on his dream debut.
Perhaps it is time to call a truce and let bygones be bygones.