Frank Lampard described himself as a “lucky man” after receiving a hero’s reception on his first visit to Chelsea as an opposition manager.
The Derby County boss oversaw an entertaining 3-2 defeat in the EFL Cup as his new club, winners over Manchester United in the third round, went close to claiming another famous scalp.
A pair of own goals in the opening 21 minutes made their task even tougher in London and a close-range Cesc Fabregas finish shortly before half-time provided the telling blow.
Though left to rue a missed opportunity to reach the quarter-finals, Lampard was upbeat after the match and appreciative of the adoration he continues to receive four years after exiting Stamford Bridge.
“I’m so thankful to the Chelsea fans. They know how I feel about them,” Lampard, the club’s all-time top scorer, told Sky Sports.
“I sort of slipped out the back door when I left. That upset me a bit at the time, but it doesn’t matter now.
“I’ve got nothing but great memories and to come back here and be treated like that, I’m a lucky man.”
Derby might well have won through had Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori and defensive partner Richard Keogh not diverted Davide Zappacosta crosses past Scott Carson with the match still in its infancy.
Jack Marriott and Martyn Waghorn provided swift responses to those setbacks while David Nugent hit the upright late in another showcase of the progress made under Lampard.
“I’m proud. I’m not upset at all. I saw that performance and it just makes me happy,” said the former England midfielder.
“Talking to the Chelsea players and their staff on the pitch, they were saying how good the way we were playing was. You know I respect this club but I’m proud of the Derby County players.
“Tomori and Keogh have been absolutely outstanding for us all season. There are no qualms from me in terms of the actual mistakes because that can happen.
“Two freak ones coming along doesn’t normally happen, but it did.
“Of course [Chelsea are] going to have the ball and control elements of the game but if you look at chances created, good ones, we had more. I think we deserved a draw on chances created, for sure.”