The excitement around Frank Lampard’s potential return to Chelsea from current club Derby County has generated a media frenzy but it is worth noting that another vital figure from the club’s recent past is also on his way back to Stamford Bridge.
Lampard’s assistant manager, Jody Morris, is Blue through and through and a well-respected coach in his own right, having played a pivotal role in helping Chelsea’s youth teams scale new heights before leaving his boyhood team to take up a role at Pride Park.
In his day, Morris was a technically gifted midfielder who became, and remains, the youngest player to play for Chelsea in the Premier League, at 17 years and 43 days old.
Unsurprisingly, Blues fans loved him from the off. However, he wasn’t just adored because he was a local boy; Morris was also a fine footballer, as he memorably underlined by getting the better of fellow wonderkid Xavi in a 3-1 win over Barcelona in April 2000.
Louis van Gaal’s team, which boasted superstars such as Luis Figo, Patrick Kluivert and Rivaldo, eventually got the better of the Blues, triumphing 5-1 in the return fixture at Camp Nou.
However, during that first leg in west London, Morris looked destined to achieve great things at Chelsea. Xavi even later named him his toughest opponent.
Morris himself has never hidden his disappointment at the way in which many of his proteges were forced to go elsewhere in search of regular football. His return should boost the first-team chances of the club’s numerous loanees and under-age prospects.
Jayden Bogle, Max Bird and Mason Bennett at Derby will tell you that this coaching team gives youth a chance. Former Blues captain Dennis Wise is also in no doubt that Chelsea’s players will respect Lampard and Morris’ frankness and meticulous approach to the game.
“I think they are both very honest,” Wise told Goal last season. “I think they tell people what they expect.
“I think they are very detailed on what they want from their players and then you always need a little bit of luck, always on your side. If they get the luck, they have already got the detail and understanding.”
They will also have the entire Chelsea crowd behind them.