The captaincy became available at Stamford Bridge when Gary Cahill left Chelsea in the summer of 2019. Lampard handed it to ‘Azpi’ due to his mature professionalism and traits of a natural leader.
The boss has previously explained that his captain leads by example every day. Giving him the armband was not new though. He lead Chelsea into the Europa League final in Baku last year.
Proud to wear the armband
He has spoken about being given the armband: “I am very proud to be captain of this football club. All that is involved, the duties on and off the pitch.
"This season has been one of the strangest in football history. The pandemic meant there was a lot of issues. At times we had no idea when we were coming back.
"We had families to take care of, it was about sticking together. I always tried to help with everybody and do my best because the situation was difficult.”
Fighting back stronger than ever
The skipper played a massive part after the pandemic. His contribution to the side post lockdown helped Chelsea to fourth in the Premier League.
Off the pitch, he had a huge say too. After donating money and time to various Chelsea Foundation programmes and giving school meals to children in the Hammersmith and Fulham area, this meant he played his part.
“I am a captain that is never happy. I always want more, when we don’t perform well, it bothers me. I feel the responsibility for it.
"On some occasions, yes, I could have played better. You must be honest with yourself and be humble enough to assess the situation.
"Every time we lose a game, I look forward to the next one to make it right. I must be early to training the next day. This is the correct mentality. It is important to have the right determination every day, so you reach the top.”
More trophies on the horizon
Azpi has won six major trophies in West London, but he is determined to win more. A mindset that he shares with his manager. Their relationship has blossomed during the season.
“Throughout my career, I have never had a manager that was my former teammate. We respect each other. Our positions were different because a few years ago we were players fighting on the pitch.
"Now, he's the manager and I'm the captain. We still give our all to achieve the best and fight for trophies.
"This is the same with all the coaching staff. I know all of them from the academy, now we have different relationships. They are now first team coaches. We work together to get the results we want.”
A season of highs and lows ended with disappointment after losing the FA Cup final. The defender was forced off against Arsenal with a hamstring injury.
“I hope to be fit for pre-season. I have been lucky to not have many injuries throughout my career, but it happens.
I am currently working with the physio to make sure I am back. With time, I will recover. If everything goes well, I will be ready for pre-season as normal.”
Pre-season will be the ninth for the number 28. He hopes to be fit so he can achieve a milestone. He will break into the all-time top 10 appearance-makers if he plays a similar number of games as he did in the 2019/20 season.
“I could not have imagined playing this many games when I arrived at Chelsea. I always try and make myself available for the manager, to train, work hard and reach this amount of games.
"I felt confidence from the managers, the club and my teammates. I don’t like to look behind me too much. I want to reach more targets and give my best every day to the football club."
After the interview, he finished with a message to the fans.
“We have missed the supporters over the past few months. They are so important and hopefully we can welcome them back as soon as possible.”