The Importance of the Club Captain in Soccer

In the sports of rugby and cricket the position of the captain is very important. In cricket the captain picks the team! This article encourages soccer coaches to think more thoroughly about the leadership of the team “On” the field and the need to think, carefully, about the role of the captain and the leadership structure within the players themselves. Some coaches have positional captains - one for the GK and backs, another for midfielders and another for strikers. The influence and demands of the captains both in the game and on the practice field can make the coaches job a lot easier. Along with “The Captain Class”  for a great read on captaincy by someone who took it very seriously read Roy Keane’s autobiography called simply – “Keane.” 

“Why All Teams Need A Captain Fantastic”

Daily Telegraph
Jeremy Wilson
Monday April 10, 2017

“John Terry, so the theory goes, has been more influential in Chelsea’s finest era of success than any of the 11 managers who have placed such faith in him to embody their message. Equally, far from the irrelevance with which Arsene Wenger seems to regard the Arsenal captaincy, perhaps the biggest single explanation for their ongoing failure to win a Premier title since 2004 is simply the absence of an on-field leader comparable to Patrick Viera or Tony Adams. The end of Arsenal’s great winning period, remember, coincided precisely with the departure of Viera.

Sam Walker, a Wall street journalist has spent 10 years studying the most successful ever sports teams in an attempt to understand what turns the good into the great and his findings would surely challenge even the famously stubborn Wenger. There has, of course, long been an outside sense that the dressing room influence of a Tony Adams, Steve Waugh, Richie McCaw, Clive Lloyd or a Bobby Moore is vast but, perhaps blinded by our infatuation with managers and individually great players, it seems that we have underestimated their importance.

Walker’s book is called The Captain Class and he is adamant that he genuinely did not expect to find that the one standout characteristic of all the greatest teams in sport history is not a genius in a dugout, financial firepower off the pitch or even a player of historical exceptional quality. It was, instead, the unerring presence of a dressing room leader of substantial- if not wholly appealing – substance. The conclusion is that even the greatest coach needs a proxy both in the dressing room and out on the pitch to provide inspiration in those places and moments they cannot themselves reach.

The characteristics of these great captains were also surprising…They seldom bother with great rallying speeches but instead encourage a constant, internal debate between players. They often do potentially divisive things in standing up to the management or speaking out bluntly in the media but, in their dogged refusal to accept defeat, in talking truth to power and an aggression and willingness to play on the very edge of the rules, they inspire standards and ambition that is transformative. There are three football teams in Walkers top 16; Barcelona from 2008 until 2013, Brazil from 1958 till 1962 and the great Hungarian team of the 1950’s. As well as Puyol, the influence and character of Ferenc Puskas and Hilderaldo Bellini is particularly noted. Yet Walker also lists other examples that fit the thesis. Especially intriguing is the passing mention of Antonio Conte for the sometimes volatile influence of his captaincy at Juventus. It suggests that, if anyone would now understand the wider importance of a figure like Terry himself, it will be the Chelsea manager himself.”

Read full article here