CHELSEA midfielder Frank Lampard thanked billionaire owner Roman Abramovich for making his “dream” come true by extending his Stamford Bridge stay for a further year.
The 34-year-old’s contract was due to expire this summer and with the club previously non-committal over his future it appeared Lampard, signed from West Ham for £11m in 2001, was set to leave the Blues.
However, Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer has put pen to paper on a one-year extension and set his sights on further glory following Wednesday’s Europa League final triumph in Holland.
“I want to thank Mr Abramovich for everything he’s done in making the dream a reality,” said Lampard.
“I love this club, the staff, the players and especially the supporters, who have treated me fantastically since the day I arrived.
“The thought of helping the club to more success in the forthcoming years is all I ever wanted.”
Lampard captained Chelsea in the Amsterdam ArenA, where a 93rd-minute goal from Branislav Ivanovic saw them clinch major silverware for the sixth time in five seasons.
And Ivanovic’s central defensive partner Gary Cahill believes it is about time much-maligned interim manager Rafael Benitez got the recognition he deserves.
“We’re better off in our league position as it stands and we have just won a trophy,” said the England defender. “You have got to give him credit for what he has done.”
Chelsea now prepare for what should be their 69th and final game of a marathon season at home to Everton on Sunday. However, the possibility of playing a 70th competitive fixture has arisen.
Should the Blues draw and Arsenal beat Newcastle by one goal, but score two more than Chelsea on the day, the London rivals will finish tied on points, goal difference and goals scored.
Subsequently, a play-off would be required to determine which team finishes third and gains automatic qualification to next season’s Champions League; a scenario goalkeeper Petr Cech is dreading.
“Hopefully it won’t happen,” he said. “We have played in so many competitions, flown all over the world. It’s tiring, it’s stressful.
“We beat them twice over the course of the season, so a play-off would be really extraordinary.”