Frank Lampard announced his retirement on Thursday and the end of his 21-year playing career attracted acclaim and admiration from friends and old rivals.

The 38-year-old received a glowing tribute from John Terry, his long-time friend and Chelsea team-mate.

Steven Gerrard, with whom Lampard tussled often in opposition and never quite gelled with England, added his congratulations.

Lampard hinted at his future career direction in his retirement statement after revealing he declined offers to continue playing.

"After 21 incredible years, I have decided that now is the right time to finish my career as a professional footballer," Lampard wrote on Instagram.

"Whilst I have received a number of exciting offers to continue playing at home and abroad, at 38 I feel now is the time to begin the next chapter in my life.

"Looking forward, I'm grateful to the FA (Football Association) for the opportunity to study for my coaching qualifications and I look forward to pursuing the off-field opportunities that this decision opens."

That leaves open the prospect of a return to Chelsea, who have long stated a desire to retain a lasting affinity with players of Lampard's generation, through ambassadorial, commercial or coaching roles.

Although with Antonio Conte's side nine points clear and favourites for the Premier League title, Lampard will likely have to wait to fulfil his ambition of managing the Blues.

Former Liverpool captain Gerrard retired last November and has since taken up a role with the Reds' academy. A similar role at Chelsea would offer a possible route into management for Lampard.

Terry paid an emotional tribute.

"The GREATEST player in the history of our great football club," Terry wrote.

Gerrard added: "Congratulations to @franklampard incredible player, incredible career. Good luck for your future mate."

Chelsea's record goalscorer also played for West Ham and Manchester City in the Premier League. He left New York City FC last autumn.

For club and country, Lampard made 1,019 appearances, scoring 302 goals.

His retirement statement was full of thanks - for West Ham, the club which gave him his debut in 1996, City, but most notably Chelsea.

He did not mention Swansea, where he made nine appearances on loan from the Hammers in 1995-96.

Swansea boss Paul Clement on Thursday revealed he had tried to coax Lampard back to south Wales, without success.

Lampard is Chelsea's record goalscorer. He scored 211 goals in 648 appearances over 13 years at the club he joined from West Ham for £11million in 2001.

He netted the goals in a win at Bolton which in 2005 secured the club's first championship title in 50 years.

And, with Terry suspended, Lampard was captain on the night Chelsea won the 2012 Champions League in Munich. He won every major club honour with the Blues.

"The largest part of my heart belongs to Chelsea, a club which has given me so many great memories," he added.

"I will never forget the opportunity they gave me and the success that we managed to achieve together.

"It is impossible to give thanks individually to all the people that helped and supported me in my 13 years playing there.

"All I can say is from the day I signed until now and going forward, I'm eternally grateful for everything and to everyone.

"Chelsea fans gave myself and my teammates such incredible support.

"Their passion and hunger drove me on personally to give my best year after year. I couldn't have done it without them."

He scored against a record 39 Premier League opponents. And with England he netted 29 goals in 106 caps.

It is a 'goal' which was not awarded which gives him a lasting legacy on the field.

His 2010 World Cup strike against Germany clearly went across the line and expedited the introduction of goal-line technology.

FIFA joined the congratulations for a career which included playing in three World Cup tournaments, labelling him "Legend" in a Twitter post.

Lampard's club achievements, in terms of trophies, went unmatched on the international stage.

And he retired from international football after his involvement in the 2014 World Cup, when England were dumped out at the group stage.

As well as his former clubs, Barcelona and AC Milan were among those to congratulate Lampard on his retirement, as many marvelled over the statistics of a stunning career.