It is barely credible that a player who had never been involved at any higher level than League One just 26 months ago should be charged with the task of leading England's attack in their crucial World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in Kiev.
Yet that is the responsibility Hodgson will hand the 31-year-old in the imposing 70,000-capacity Olympic Stadium tomorrow night.
It is some story. Yet it is the very journey Lambert has undertaken to reach his present status as national hero that convinces Hodgson he has the mentality required.
"Rickie's mentality must be very strong," said Hodgson.
"Surely he hasn't just become a talented footballer who has good touch on the ball, works hard for his team and has a good understanding.
"Yet people, including me, have been watching him play and passing him over.
"You have to be very strong mentally to suffer that many knock backs but still keep believing in yourself, to keep saying 'no-one is singing my praises but I am still a good player."
Hodgson feels Lambert may have suffered from the negative assessments that tend to be put forward for players these days.
Rather than concentrate on strengths, the modern trend seems to be highlighting weaknesses.
And on the basis no-one is perfect, even the very best can look bad like that.
"Let's take a classic example," said Hodgson.
"If we were to list the attributes of a centre-half, we would probably say athletic, fast, quick on the turn and have the ability to come out from the back and beat people.
"If you then looked at Bobby Moore a lot of people would say he can't do this or that.
"Perhaps in the past we were kind and maybe Rickie is someone who has come into that category.
"People have watched him and found a fault, for instance he can't run like Theo Walcott, and have gone for someone who can."
As Hodgson looked closely at Lambert when he was in charge of Fulham, he could be found guilty of exactly the same offence.
"I am not talking behind his back," he said.
"Even he wouldn't say he was the quickest player.
"But he is an athlete. He runs. He can move. He just hasn't got the pace people are looking for in centre forwards these days."
After becoming the first England player to score in his first two internationals since Peter Taylor 37 years ago, Lambert's is already a fairy story.
Yet Hodgson is wary of demanding too much of the Kirkby-born front-man, who probably would not have started tomorrow had Danny Welbeck not been ruled out through suspension.
Hodgson has also been denied the services of Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Andy Carroll through injury.
Yet the England boss has assured Lambert no matter how tomorrow works out, he still has a future with the national team.
"I would like to play down Rickie for his own sake because it is almost a fairytale that you get selected at 31 having played in the lower leagues, then come on and score a fantastic centre forward's goal.
"On top of that you play an important game, score one, set up two and look as though you have never been outside an England set up in your life.
"That is some achievement.
"I am bit worried we are going to hang a bit too much on him tomorrow.
"The important thing is that he plays his part in the team and makes certain he doesn't let us down in any way.
"Who knows, he might surprise us and add a third to the fairytale but if he doesn't he is still going to be a player England will get some use out of in the future."