Chelsea legend Frank Lampard brought down the curtain on his glittering career at Stamford Bridge as he announced he will leave the west London club when his contract expires at the end of June.
Lampard had reportedly been offered a new deal on reduced terms by Chelsea, but he has opted to bring an end to his 13-year spell with the Premier League team.
Several reports earlier claimed Lampard’s representative has held talks with New York City over a prospective move to Major League Soccer’s new franchise next March.
At least 10 other clubs, including newly-promoted QPR, are believed to have registered their interest in signing the star.
Lampard scored 211 goals in 649 appearances for the Blues, making him the club’s all-time record goal-scorer.
He admitted it was a wrench to leave Chelsea after so many happy memories and he paid tribute to former chairman Ken Bates, who was in charge when he was signed from West Ham in 2001, and current owner Roman Abramovich, whose huge cash injection transformed the team into a European superpower.
“When I arrived at this fantastic club 13 years ago I would never have believed that I would be fortunate enough to play so many games and enjoy sharing in so much success,” Lampard said in a statement released by his agent.
“This club has become part of my life and I have so many people to thank for the opportunity. Firstly, Ken Bates, who put his neck on the line to sign me as a young player and without him I would not have even begun this experience.”