If there’s one thing that is certain on Saturday, it is the warm welcome Frank Lampard will receive from City fans, former team-mates and Club staff.

The Chelsea boss will make his first return to the Etihad since stepping into management two years ago and while many wondered if he’d been handed the job he’d always seemed destined to take too soon, he has, of course, taken to the role like the proverbial duck to water.

Lampard will bring his youthful Chelsea side to the Etihad a point ahead of City and will no doubt look to take three points back to Stamford Bridge – but it’s hard to imagine he could have had a more enjoyable stay at any club other than City and later New York City.

READ: Where can I watch City v Chelsea?

Of course, his heart was always with Chelsea, and how could it not have been after 14 years with the club and an incredible 648 appearances that yielded 211 goals?

‘Super Frank’ is not just a terrace chant that Chelsea – and for a time – City fans used to sing. It is backed up with some stellar statistics.


                        ARRIVAL: Let's be Frank
ARRIVAL: Let's be Frank

He won 13 trophies with Chelsea, including three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups plus the Champions League and Europa League.

He is undoubtedly one of Chelsea’s greatest players, and many believe the best – if anyone had right to claim the title ‘The Special One’ it was surely Lampard.

Like David Silva and Sergio Aguero, it is also odd that, despite being a serial winner and being one of the most prolific midfielders this country has ever seen, he was never once voted PFA Player of the Year.

For England, he won 106 caps, scoring 29 goals. There was a debate throughout his international career that both he and Steven Gerrard were not a good fit together, but that is surely down to a succession of managers not finding a way to best utilise two of English football’s most talented midfielders?

That, however, is an argument for another day.

When Lampard called time on his playing career with Chelsea, it was announced that he would become a New York City FC player but would initially play for Manchester City during the 2014/15 campaign.

His six-month deal with the Blues was extended for the whole season with Lampard’s commitment to NYCFC beginning after his year at the Etihad.

It proved an enjoyable campaign for Lampard and - as football often does - his first goal for City was not without irony as he scored the equaliser in a 1-1 draw with (of course) Chelsea to spoil the visitors’ perfect Premier League start to the campaign.


                        ERM... Frank levels against Chelsea
ERM... Frank levels against Chelsea

‘Lamps’ didn’t celebrate – think Zaba scoring against City – but nobody minded, and the Blues’ fans enjoyed echoing ‘Super Frank’ around the Etihad that September afternoon.

The consummate professional, Lampard played 38 times for Manuel Pellegrini’s City, but the defending champions would never catch Chelsea (of course, once again) who went on to relieve the Blues of their crown.

WATCH: City v Chelsea: Extended highlights

For his final appearance on the last day of the season, Lampard skippered City to a 2-0 win, scoring the first goal after 31 minutes to the delight of the sell-out Etihad crowd and his team-mates.

And when he was substituted on 77 minutes, the City fans rose as one to salute a player that many wished could have played the majority of his career in a lighter shade of blue.

He addressed the City fans at the end of the game and thanked them for a wonderful year and a fantastic send off.


                        THANK YOU: Frank bids farewell
THANK YOU: Frank bids farewell

He said: “I think I've had a lot of opportunities to talk about Chelsea, but I have turned up here at age of 36, I didn't know what to expect, from the dressing room and the fans and living in this city, and all I can say is thank you so, so much to everybody.

"I'd like to thank the players, staff and people behind scenes and the City supporters. This is a very special club and from bottom of my heart it's been a pleasure to play for you.”

On the training pitch he had been an inspirational figure, particularly to the Club’s younger stars and among the backroom staff and Club staff, nobody had a bad word for him – Frank Lampard had been a true gentleman throughout his stay and had time for everyone.

Considering his standing in the game, there were no airs or graces about him, just a humbleness and humility that made him very popular, very quickly.

He officially became a New York City player on July 1, 2015 and would stay in the Big Apple for 18 months, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances and, along with David Villa, helped NYCFC to a first MLS Cup Play-Off before announcing his retirement from playing in February 2017.

WATCH: Frank Lampard: Farewell interview

He was keen to focus on his coaching badges and just 15 months later, he was installed as Derby County manager. A year after that, he became Chelsea’s first English manager for more than 20 years.

In London, he will now pit his wits against the manager he won so much with – Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho – as he bids to guide Chelsea to a top four finish or better.

His young and vibrant Chelsea side will be a tough test for the champions on Saturday, but you can just bet Pep Guardiola will have been a big admirer of Frank Lampard the player – and will have no doubt been impressed by the first 18 months of Frank Lampard the manager, too.

But he will still want to beat him!