The ‘fight’ in Scott Parker marked him out as a future manager, according to his former team-mate Frank Lampard.
Fulham boss Parker is facing the biggest battle of his life to keep Chelsea's west London rivals in the Premier League.
Parker and Lampard were colleagues for club and country, while they have also spent time together on holiday.
But Blues manager Lampard admits that sometimes it can be more satisfying to beat a friend than an enemy.
He said: “I definitely saw fight in Scott when he was here at Chelsea and I guess he would have wanted to play more.
“He left to play, which is always a great sign. He went to play more and his career was fantastic wherever he went after that, and his England career.
“That’s a sign of the man he is and the professional he was. I also find Scott very genuine, a straight-talker, and very hard working.
“We have holidayed in the same destination a couple of times and had lunches together, and a few drinks here and there, so we are certainly close – as much as that goes.
“You can have friends in football – I have – but when you’re very driven, your job takes you in different directions, particularly when you’re a manager.
“It’s very hard to have too much small talk and I’m guessing some of my friends, and possibly family, will agree with this given how rubbish I am at texting people back and stuff, because
I am consumed with this job.
“But with Scott, I appreciate he’s got a lot on his hands, as I have, and I let him get on with that.
“And the other thing with friends is when you’re driven in this game, you want to beat your friends, sometimes maybe even more than you want to beat your enemies.
“But it doesn’t change anything in terms of how you approach the game.
“I’m sure Scott won’t mind me saying that and he’ll feel the same. At the end of the day, it’s points for our teams that we both need at this moment.”
Fulham are still in the relegation zone but are now within a win of safety, while Chelsea are stuck in a rut as they are without a win in their last three Premier League games.
Lampard was rather cryptic on suggestions that former Chelsea boss Avram Grant could be coming back to the club in some capacity, but was much more open on being critical of the Premier League.
Chelsea were frustrated with the fixture schedule over Christmas – at Arsenal on Boxing Day and then Aston Villa on December 28.
And he sympathised fully with Fulham following their complaints over the last-minute reorganising of the Tottenham match this week.
On Grant, Lampard said: “I don’t know anything about it, so I prefer not to go any further with it. But in terms of clubs now, they are huge businesses, a lot of people are employed.
"The most important thing for me regarding personnel is that the team works together.
“We weren’t looked after over Christmas with our fixtures when we could have been, and it seems the Premier League has to open the dialogue and discussion much more. It can’t be that you’re just told.
“It must be an open conversation and I understand Scott’s point after being told two days before having to play in the Premier League.
“That really isn’t good enough. But it’s done.”
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