BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Frank Lampard, New York City F.C.’s latest big name acquisition, greeted media on the green fields of Brooklyn’s Pier 5 — just a river away from where the World Trade Center once stood.
For most players, that would have little meaning at all. For Lampard, however, it brings him a shoreline away from one of the darkest moments in his otherwise brilliant professional career.
Back in 2001, Lampard was one of a handful of Chelsea players who reportedly accosted a group of stranded American travelers in a drunken tirade at a Heathrow Airport hotel. The group were accused of stripping, vomiting and swearing in front of the travelers, earning him a fine and suspension for his actions.
With the Freedom Tower in the backdrop, the English midfielder faced reporters to clear his name.
“I categorically did not insult or set out to insult someone,” Lampard said. “Unfortunately, it was very much misreported at the time in England and it’s actually a chance for me to finally say that.
“I was naive and a young boy at the time,” he continued. “I have some regrets, the fact that I was out and about shouldn’t be and I wouldn’t be if it was today. What I did want to say is that I categorically did not insult anyone, behave badly in front of Americans or in fact anyone. I was very sensitive straight away to the issue and the tragedy.”
The long buried story began to emerge in local newspapers; first with the Daily News, and the Post shortly there after. Lampard acknowledged the incident fully, but would not go into detail over just what parts of the report were in fact true.
Nevertheless, the 36-year-old Chelsea legend, who intends on visiting the 9-11 Memorial Museum, hopes that his work both on and off the field earn him a fresh start with New York City soccer fans.
“My point is I tried in my last 13-years in Chelsea to just be a good man really, not just a good footballer, but a good man off the pitch,” he said. “I’d like to think I’ve kind of done that and I want New Yorkers to hear that and see that. It’s up to me to show and prove the footballer and person I am.”