Chelsea's Lampard: Bilic was West Ham cult hero

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard says Croatia coach Slaven Bilic was a cult hero at West Ham United.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard says Croatia coach Slaven Bilic was a cult hero at West Ham United.

"The thing I remember about Slaven from West Ham was the size of his personality," said Lampard, the only one of tomorrow's likely England team to have played in all three previous matches against Bilic's Croatia.

"To come from abroad and make the impression he did, both on the pitch and behind the scenes, shows his intelligence.

"He'd have a few fags before games. He was a smoker at the time, a couple of other players did as well, but it didn't affect his performance when he played. He was a cult hero, a nice fella and a top player."

Bilic spent just 18 months at West Ham before moving to Everton but took Lampard and Rio Ferdinand under his wing as they broke into the first team.

"I can see players would like to work with him," Lampard said. "Whenever I hear him speak, he talks about his close relationship with his players, as if they are family. It's important for the modern-day manager to have that relationship. The players then give you that bit extra."

 
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