Jose Mourinho has said that if Chelsea had won the Champions League before 2012 then Frank Lampard would have won the Ballon d’Or.
Lampard finished as runner-up to Barcelona’s Ronaldinho in 2005, the year which Chelsea were controversially eliminated from the Champions League by Liverpool at the semi-final stage.
Chelsea went on to reach another two semi-finals losing to Liverpool and Barcelona in 2007 and 2009, and also lost on penalties to Manchester United in the 2008 final.
In a serialisation of Mike Carson's book, The Manager, in the Telegraph, Mourinho reveals his belief that Lampard should have been crowned as Europe’s best player.
"That season [2004-05] was a season for them to say, ‘We are the best in this country’, and it was the season for me to say: ‘I’m not just very good in Portugal, I’m also very good here.’ So it was like an explosion of motivation on both sides," Mourinho said.
"I remember saying clearly to Frank Lampard: 'You are one of the best players in the world, but nobody knows.'
"In one of the seasons Frank was a finalist in what is now the Ballon d’Or, and I think he didn’t win because he was not a European champion.
"Between 2004 and 2007 he became, for sure, one of the best players in the world. So we motivate people also with individual challenges, and for him, for sure, that was a challenge we put there and he understood and he was ready for it.
"If Frank’s 2012 Champions League win had come before, he would have been voted the best."
Chelsea are still hopeful of completing a deal to sign Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney as Mourinho attempts to put the finishing touches to a squad capable of competing for the Premier League and Champions League.
And the former Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss said he thrives on working with the biggest names.
"I have never had a problem with working with that special talent -- never," he said.
"And I never understood when people say that it is a problem, or you can have a special talent but not two or three or four. I want 11 special talents in my team!
"Maybe I was lucky, maybe I wasn’t, but it was never a problem. The toughest thing is when you don’t have talent in your squad."
Mourinho also highlighted some of the motivational tactics which may see him coax the best form out of Chelsea veterans John Terry, Ashley Cole and Lampard.
"Older players must not feel that you are there to end their careers. They must feel they have a lot to give until the last moment they are there. Then, probably the last period of their career will give them what the best years of their career didn’t give to them.
"Why not? The problem comes when people are not able to make the oldest players feel that they are very important. That is why I say you have to understand everything about them: frustrations, ambitions, doubts.
"You have to understand a lot and work with them."