The Leader of the Team

The captain plays a hugely important role, leading the players on the field and doing what the manager can’t do from the sidelines. Their job is to guide, protect, and inspire those around them. So what makes a truly great skipper?

Paolo Maldini captained AC Milan and Italy for many years

The modern-day captain is involved in more aspects of the game than ever before. Off the pitch they will regularly feature in interviews with the press and are expected to be the model professional, speaking well of the club and being a positive role model. During a game the priority is to lead and inspire the players around them but also to remain a calm and responsible spokesperson with the referee.

There are some obvious traits that you’d expect of a great captain: Leadership, determination, and influence spring to mind. These attributes often come with age and experience, but not exclusively. So what else gives a captain that special edge, that aura that demands respect and obedience? Let’s take a look at some the greatest captains and what made them so effective.

  • Roy Keane: The captain of Manchester United and Ireland was well known for his aggression. Though not considered a must-have attribute for a captain it’s difficult to deny the impact that Keane’s grit, drive and determination had on the players around him. Both brilliant and controversial, Keane’s relentless effort for the cause was unquestionable.
  • Steven Gerrard: The local Liverpudlian wore his heart on his sleeve and it was that charismatic virtue that allowed him to lead by example on the pitch. He would frequently deliver the goods in big moments for the club he both captained and cherished.
  • John Terry: A natural born leader. It was evident, even as a youngster breaking in to the first team, that Terry was destined to wear the armband, which he did for many years for both club and country.
  • Carlos Puyol: Catalan born and raised, Puyol knew exactly what was expected of the Barcelona captaincy. He worked his socks off for the club and made sure his team-mates did too.

There are loads of examples of successful captains and these are just a few, but by looking closer at these personalities there may be a few extra traits that we might not think about initially. Does the player speak the language? That’s bound to help. Has the player been at the club long enough to develop a strong affiliation and affection? Can a show of aggression help when team-mates aren’t pulling their weight? Should your captain be an organiser or an inspiration? Does age matter?

As important as it is to find a suitable leader changing your captain / vice captain can negatively impact on them and the rest of the squad. They may feel hard done by or disagree with your call. So be bold, but be sure in your choice.


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