Thomas Tuchel says Frank Lampard will always be a Chelsea "legend" despite a painful end to his managerial reign at Stamford Bridge as the German prepares to lock horns with the Everton boss.
Tuchel was hired to replace Lampard at Chelsea following his dismissal in January 2021 and the pair will meet for the first time on Sunday.
The Chelsea manager revealed on Friday that Lampard, now in the Goodison Park hotseat, sent him a good luck message when he was appointed.
Lampard was axed after a dip in form in his second season, with Tuchel using his predecessor's squad to win the Champions League just months after his arrival.
While Tuchel has kept Chelsea in the Premier League's top three during a turbulent season, Lampard is battling to save third-bottom Everton from slipping into the second tier for the first time since 1954.
Aware that he could push Chelsea's record goalscorer closer to relegation with a victory at Goodison Tuchel was quick to declare his admiration for Lampard.
"He sent me a very kind, respectful message after I took over at Chelsea that meant a lot," Tuchel told reporters.
"I was a huge fan of him as a player and he is and will remain a legend at our club and this is a given. I was very happy when he wrote me that message and it was very gentlemanly."
He added: "I have never met Frank in person. I would love to meet him. We need the points, they need the points urgently as well."
Academy graduates Reece James and Mason Mount, among others, became first-team regulars under Lampard.
But, asked if he had Lampard to thank for the quality youngsters at his disposal, Tuchel said the former England midfielder would not have played anyone who did not deserve their chance.
"I don't know if it is gratitude," Tuchel said. "I don't think Frank did it to do them a favour. I think every coach does it because it is all about helping the team. It is not about age in any direction."