Frank Lampard says his desire to return to the sharp end of football lay behind his decision to take the “fantastic opportunity” of managing Derby.
The 39-year-old former England and Chelsea midfielder was unveiled as the new Rams boss on Thursday afternoon and will be charged with taking the club back to the Premier League in what is his first managerial position.
He has signed a three-year contract at Pride Park to become the club’s seventh manager in three years, replacing Gary Rowett, who joined Stoke this month.
“It feels great, it’s a fantastic opportunity,” he told reporters at a press conference.
“I’m well aware of the tradition here, I’ve walked the hallways… it’s coming off the walls.”
Lampard, Chelsea’s record goalscorer, retired from playing in 2017 and had been working as a pundit for BT Sport.
Asked why he wanted to coach when an easier career surely lay in front on him in broadcasting, he replied: “I was a player and I took stick for 20 years, it’s part of the territory. You can’t take away the love that we have for wanting to succeed.
“I’ve had 18 months away, which has been great for me, but I still had the desire to manage, to work at the cut-throat end, which has been there since I can remember. I missed that.”
Lampard won every major club honour during a decorated playing career while he also earned 106 caps for England, scoring 29 goals.
After joining from West Ham in 2001 he left Chelsea in 2014, going on to play for Manchester City and New York City, having won 11 major trophies.
He won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking to the club’s website, he added: “We want to build on the club’s top six finish in the Championship last season, while at the same time bringing through some of the excellent youth and academy talent we have at Pride Park.
“This is my first job as a manager but I’ve been working towards this for a long time. I’ve worked closely with some of the best coaches in the game and I’m confident in my own abilities and those of the team around me.
“I know it won’t be easy – managing a football team never is – but I’m here to work hard. I’m really looking forward to getting started and to the challenge ahead.”
Rams chief executive Mel Morris told dcfc.co.uk: “I’m delighted to have someone of Frank’s calibre as our new manager.
“I’ve always been an admirer of Frank both as a player and a person, especially in the way he conducts himself both on and off the pitch.
“That impression was only reinforced when we interviewed him for this role – his passion and humility shone through in equal measure. The board were unanimous that he was the standout applicant with many highly desirable and unique capabilities.”
Under Rowett, earlier this month Derby lost in the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi final to eventual winners Fulham and they have not been in the Premier League for 10 years.