Frank Lampard felt Raheem Sterling was wrong to compare the managerial careers of himself and Steven Gerrard to Sol Campbell but praised the Manchester City and England winger for his work in trying to highlight racial discrimination in football.
In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the globe earlier this month, Sterling spoke to BBC Newsnight on a range of issues and discussed the lack of representation for black and ethnic minority people in the upper echelons of English football.
While also mentioning the minimal diversity present at boardroom level, Sterling struck a comparison between the early steps in coaching taken by Gerrard, Lampard, Campbell and their former England team-mate Ashley Cole.
Lampard took charge of Chelsea after guiding Derby County to the play-off final in his debut season in management, while Gerrard's first senior post after working at Liverpool's academy came with Scottish giants Rangers.
By contrast, Campbell is in charge of Southend United, who will begin next season in League Two – the fourth tier, where the ex-Arsenal centre-back masterminded a sensational escape from relegation for Macclesfield Town in 2018-19.
"I always refer back to football, the coaching staff you see around clubs," Sterling said. "I'll give a perfect one. There's Steven Gerrard, your Frank Lampards, you have your Sol Campbells and you have your Ashley Coles.
"All had great careers, all played for England. At the same time, they've all respectfully done their coaching badges to coach at the highest level and the two that haven't been given the right opportunities are the two black former players."
Speaking ahead of Chelsea's game against City at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, Lampard took exception to Sterling highlighting him specifically.
"In the last year or two, Raheem Sterling has been brave enough to speak about issues that maybe hadn't been broached and should have been broached a while before," he said. "That's huge credit to him.
"In the case of managers, I think Raheem got it, from my point of view, slightly wrong because it felt a very casual comparison.
"If you compare opportunities and pathways of individual managers - you can compare myself, you can compare Steven, you can compare Sol, who did an incredible job at Macclesfield and now at Southend that all of us would find very difficult to do."
Having played under him at Derby, Cole is now coaching in Chelsea's youth setup, and Lampard continued: "You compare to Ashley Cole, who is doing a great job and I think is going to be successful in whatever he wants to do.
"I think it's very hard to make that comparison from the outside. Those opportunities have to be equal for everybody, I think we all agree on that. But within that then there are the details of how hard you've worked.
"I've certainly worked hard from the start of my career to try and get this opportunity and there are a million things that knock you, set you back, you fight against."
Premier League players have worn the Black Lives Matter slogan on their shirts since the competitive action resumed, also taking a knee at the start of each match in solidarity with campaigns against police brutality.
Nevertheless, beyond the undoubted value of raising awareness, the underlying numbers in the English game remain troubling. Of 91 managers at professional clubs, six are black, while there are no black referees.
Lampard praised what he perceived to be a diverse outlook at Derby and Chelsea, based on his experiences with the two clubs, but acknowledged there is considerable work to be done.
"I think we're moving forward and can move forward more quickly, where players are getting equal opportunities if they move into management," he said.
"Not just players, young coaches when they come into the game. The FA do a lot of good work, I've just finished my Pro License. It was very diverse, it was very open.
"That needs to be encouraged. If there's anything we can do to help making sure everyone gets equal opportunity and a pathway into management, it needs to be done. The numbers suggest there are things that need to be done."
Lampard added: "With Raheem, I think the individual comparison when you don't have the detail of each individual person's pathway wasn't quite right.
"Again, I'll level that out because I want to say that Raheem Sterling as a person and a player and what he's stood up for over the past two years has been fantastic."