Later News May 20

Lampard hails Everton’s EPL survival as ‘one of the greatest moments’ of his life


He may have won multiple English Premier League (EPL) titles, the Champions League, FA Cups, and even starred in a critically acclaimed documentary (Sex, Footballers and Videotape).

 

But nothing, apparently, quite tops the list of achievements for Frank Lampard as helping an Everton side that has spent over £560m (S$962m) on transfer fees over the last seven years avoid relegation.

 

The Toffees secured their spot in the EPL next season by beating Crystal Palace 3-2 this morning (SGT) in a thrilling come-from-behind victory that sent the home fans at Goodison Park crazy. So crazy, in fact, that one of them actually thought it was a good idea to taunt Patrick Vieira – one of the most notoriously hard b*stards in football during his playing days  – to his face in the middle of the pitch.

 

WATCH: Vieira inducted into EPL Hall of Fame

 

But the night ultimately belonged to Lampard and the Everton players, who defied the odds to secure survival ahead of the mighty Burnley and Leeds United.

 

Lampard, who took over the reigns at Everton in January this year, when they were languishing in 16th, was able to steer them all the way to...er...16th in the table over these past four months.

 

“It is one of the greatest moments of my footballing life and career,” an emotional Lampard gushed. “I have been very fortunate to have amazing times, especially at Chelsea as a player and a coach. But when you feel the feelings and desperation of what relegation brings to the table, it is different. 

 

“You need to dig in. You lose games, you fight to do something and then you lose another game. People think you should fly up the table and it is never that way.

 

“Coming in here three and a half months ago with my amazing staff, positive people who work so hard, and trying to affect things and getting a reaction from the players, from the fans and feeling unity when it looked split. This club is special and I am proud to be manager of Everton on this night.

 

“I am full of thanks tonight; thanks to the fans for taking me on board, to the board for taking me on at a difficult time when we appeared to be going in the wrong direction, and to the players. That was down to the players.”

 

WATCH: Lampard thrilled after securing EPL safety for Everton

 

Lampard also hit out at the Celebration Police for tut-tutting the wild manner in which Everton reveled in the aftermath of the win, with their naysayers highlighting that they really should be doing far better than 16th in the table with the quality of their squad.

 

But the former Chelsea star insisted that it was far harder to get a tune out of the likes of Dele Alli, Alex Iwobi and Abdoulaye Doucouré than it looks, as he said: “It is easy to say: ‘But you haven’t won anything.’ You know what, come and work at this club for a few months and see the difficulties and what it means to people to stay in this league.

 

“See us 2-0 down at half-time, playing poorly, ridiculous second goal and then see the character they showed. See the fans on the pitch in good heart and spirit. They have pulled us over the line, they have been more than a 12th man.

 

“What we've just seen, it's Premier League safety, it's not Champions League. But what it means to the club and circumstances they were given in. The character of this club, the fans, players, just got us through. The spirit of the club was immense.

 

“There are a lot of people who work so hard for that, the players, the board, the fans, my staff. It's a huge night for Everton and now we want to take that forward.”

 

WATCH: Everton fans go wild after priceless victory over Chelsea

 

Everton will conclude their season with a trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal on Sunday evening (SGT), while both Leeds and Burnley will battle it out for survival against Brentford and Newcastle United respectively.

 

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