EDDIE Howe revealed how “top-class” Frank Lampard “had an aura about him” – even when they shared an England dressing room together 21 years ago.

Lampard and Howe were part of England under-21s’ 1998 Toulon tournament squad, which also included the likes of Jamie Carragher and Emile Heskey.

And more than two decades on, the Cherries boss is tomorrow set to go toe-to-toe with Lampard as a manager for the first time, when he takes his side to face Chelsea (3pm).

Former West Ham star Lampard went on to win three Premier League titles as a player, as well as 106 senior caps for the Three Lions.

And while Howe admits his promising playing career was cut short by injury, he has never forgotten the classy nature of the now Stamford Bridge boss.

Asked what it had been like to be in the same playing squad as Lampard, the Cherries boss told the Daily Echo: “You are testing my grey matter now, that was a long time ago!

“It was a brilliant experience for me coming from Bournemouth in League One, to be around Premier League players was a fantastic moment.

“I have to be honest - I was nowhere near Frank’s level.

“But it was great to see what he did, how he played and how he conducted himself.

“He was a really good guy, really friendly, very welcoming – he obviously didn’t know me but he was top-class. I’ve never forgotten that.

“He had an aura about him, a confidence that he was a very good player. He was able to express that in lots of different ways.

“It was not just him, there was Jamie Carragher and lots of other players in that team that, for a young lad who hadn’t really been close to players of that level, it was something I have never forgotten.”

Having masterminded Cherries’ rise from League Two to the Premier League, Howe has managed more than six times as many games as Lampard.

But he insisted he had not been surprised by the former midfielder’s prowess as a head coach.

“You look at his playing career and how dedicated he was to that,” said Howe.

“I had no doubt he would do the same to management.

“You learn a new skill, a totally new role but he’s given everything to it. You can see that from the outside.

“I think Chelsea have done well. They have obviously been tested by the transfer ban and that was something that was really interesting from the outside to see. It’s quite unusual in football.

“But I think Frank and his team have dealt so well with that.

“They have blooded young players, given them an opportunity - those young players have responded in kind and delivered some really good performances.

“It’s a different Chelsea from previous seasons but still a very effective team.”