Frank Lampard said politicians "jumped the gun" by calling for footballers to act in the national interest over the coronavirus pandemic, claiming his Chelsea players were among those already preparing to play their part.
The United Kingdom's health secretary Matt Hancock used a national press briefing to urge elite footballers in England to take a pay cut, and since then Premier League players have announced the creation of a charity fund to help health services in the fight against COVID-19.
Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville and Gary Lineker all hit back at the government's decision to single out footballers in the debate over salary reductions, and Lampard echoed their comments while praising the response to the pandemic at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea agreed to let the National Health Service use the club's Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge to accommodate staff, and Lampard told Sky Sports News: "I was very proud to be manager of this club with the way Chelsea handled it. They were very quick to respond to help with the hotel.
"There's a lot more work they've been doing with the foundation, with link-ups, getting in touch with fans, with putting on tutorials from some of the academy coaches. There are a lot of people at Chelsea who have stood up with some good work.
"I think they needed some time and I think the politicians jumped the gun while things were being prepared. People behind the scenes knew that and it's unfortunate that picture got painted.
"Since then a lot of players and clubs have stood up in a good way generally. Knowing the players and how they think, that's been a very good reaction. And it's ongoing and it shouldn't stop. I think that reaction needs to continue. If there's a light at the end of this tunnel, if there are things we can all learn, it's how we give back and stick together."
Lampard also paid tribute to former Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Bonetti, who died on Sunday following a long-term illness.
Bonetti made 729 appearances for the Blues, winning the FA Cup, the European Cup Winners' Cup, and the League Cup.
Lampard said: "My memory is of watching him as a player, but also memories of meeting him and what a gentleman he was. He was working in hospitality at Chelsea when I first arrived, working upstairs.
"[He was] so friendly with everyone that came to the game. Had time for everybody, absolute gentleman and a huge loss to Chelsea and to football."