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Ahead of Chelsea and Barcelona's Champions League semi-final in 2012, Jack Wilshere provided an eye-opening admission about former team-mate Cesc Fabregas, who had left Arsenal for the Catalans a year earlier.
“I think Cesc would love to score tonight,” Wilshere wrote on Twitter.
“Him and [Frank] Lampard never liked each other on the pitch.”
Unbeknown to football fans before Wilshere's post, Fabregas and Lampard had become the best of enemies ever since tempers flared in the 2007 League Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea.
As Chelsea closed in on a 2-1 win at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Kolo Toure and John Obi-Mikel were involved in a heated altercation which sparked a mass scuffle between both sets of teams.
Lampard quickly intervened to defend his team-mate, before Fabregas grabbed the Blues vice-captain by the scruff of the neck and tried to pull him away.
The midfielders then found themselves in a squabble of their own, with a seething Lampard losing his cool and squaring up to Fabregas before they were swiftly separated.
Little did anyone know, however, that the incident would prove the catalyst for a bitter 11-year feud between the pair.
Lampard and Fabregas clashed again on several occasions while battling it out for Chelsea and Arsenal. When another quarrel between the two teams broke out in January 2008, Lampard could be seen making a clear beeline for the Spaniard, suggesting he hadn't forgotten their League Cup fall-out almost a year on.
They also had to be separated during the second leg of that 2012 Champions League semi-final, which saw Fabregas pitted against his old Premier League rival a year after leaving Arsenal to seal a dream move to Barcelona.
Two years after that tie – which proved one of the most dramatic Champions League matches in history when Chelsea fought back from two goals down to win – the unthinkable happened. Fabregas broke Arsenal hearts by agreeing to join Jose Mourinho's Blues, departing Barcelona just three years into his stint at the Nou Camp.
To ensure he would get his man, Mourinho chose to wave goodbye to Lampard the very same summer, deciding against handing the club's all-time record goalscorer a new contract out of fear he could not share a dressing room with Fabregas.
During a punditry appearance on BT Sport in 2017, Lampard revealed when asked about Fabregas: "We never played together! They let me go to get Cesc in.
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“Me and Cesc never really got on well on the pitch so they didn’t think we could share a dressing room.”
Considering their only disputes came on the pitch, Lampard and Fabregas' clear disdain for one another, so strong that one had to leave Chelsea to make way for the other, was both surprising and baffling in equal measure.
Yet with Lampard's playing career over, the pair saw no reason to continue their spat when working together for BBC Sport at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
In a fascinating interview with The Telegraph last year, Fabregas revealed that he buried the hatchet with his adversary while working out in a Russian gym.
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“It’s completely true [that we fell out], we don’t have to hide anything,” he said.
“I think he will tell you the same thing. We have had many, many battles during the years and we kind of disliked each other on the football pitch because he wanted to play and win for Chelsea and I wanted to win for Arsenal
“The League Cup final was kind of crazy. We were losing 2-1 and it was basically the last moment of the game and you feel a little frustrated. [John Obi] Mikel and Kolo Toure went into a tackle and both got sent off. Me and Frank had a moment there. I think maybe I was very young and very enthusiastic. I wanted to beat the world basically and sometimes I was overwhelmed by the situation and went over the top.
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“Even when I was with Barcelona, I remember in the Champions League clash we also had our moments. I love it, personally. Frank is a competitor and a winner, and he will tell you the same thing.
“We met each other at the World Cup in Russia working for the BBC and we went to the gym together.
“We were having lunch together and that was when he had just signed for Derby, and I was asking him questions about how he saw the situation and he was explaining his plans a little bit.
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“This is what football is about. I respect him so much for what he has done with Chelsea and for football in general. He was a fantastic player and a fantastic opponent to play against.
“Of course, I disliked him, because many times they beat us and it was difficult to play against him, but always with respect and admiration.”
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- Frank Lampard
- Chelsea FC
- Arsenal FC
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