Monday, 13 February 2012

The England Captaincy, What Next?

In the wake of the John Terry being removed from the captain’s role of the national team by the FA whilst being investigated for racism. It has raised a very valuable social debate that does the England National team captain make a good role model for the youth of today? So playing for your country is the biggest honour any footballer may be awarded and something that in the world of football money just cannot buy. So, to be awarded the captains armband must be the highest accolade any player can achieve… This player needs to command the highest level of respect from his peers and is the sole figure that the nation places its trust within. He should be the epiphany of professionalism both on and off the field.

Ultimately captain appointment is decided by the national coach but as we have just seen The FA lost faith with Terry and stepped in to resolve the ongoing bad press around a criminal investigation relating to racist comments. Some along with myself would agree that he should not have even been in the role having had the captaincy removed previously in the wake of the scandal between Terry and Wayne Bridge.

Who is to blame for this recent poor judgement of character, the departing Capello or The FA? However looking back over the past few years and other players that have worn the armband on the list does not fill itself with glory so do we as a nation have a poor ability to judge a good character?

Tony Adams a self confessed alcoholic, who served 4 months at her majesties pleasure after crashing a car whilst 4 times over the drink drive limit. Steven Gerard at times one of the best midfielders in the world, has also been involved in events that left him in court facing charges of assault and affray. To his credit both charges were dropped but as a captain of both club and country a situation that should not occur. Rio Ferdinand reports of alleged numerous cases of adultery and high injury proneness has limited his chance of long term possession the armband.

As we look to the future who in the current set-up who would be an ideal individual to don the 3 lions armband? A player than can hold the respect of both his peers but of the nation with enough form and seniority to retain a regular first team spot whilst having the experience to conduct themselves at the highest level. A few names spring to mind but again fail to fulfil the criteria more commonly off the pitch. Wayne Rooney, England’s most consistent and inspiring player of recent years. However, sent off in last game for England for kicking an opponent and in his early career numerous media tales of adultery. Ashley Cole, the 6th highest capped England player of all time, perhaps with limited time left in his career at 31 years old but with off the field media attention due to previous relationships and certain air gun incidents he does not jump out to be the next captain.

In the post WW2 era 26 players have been awarded the prestige of the national armband. Since 1990, 10 players have fulfilled the role and of those 10 who can really be seen as setting an example for the nations hopes and dreams. Top of the list is Gary Lineker, Lineker captained his country 18 times, scoring 48 goals in 80 games. It cannot be disputed that Lineker fulfilled his time and honour impeccably and was well know for his sportsmanship whilst maintaining the highest level of competitveness. Lineker finished a dazzling career without ever being booked or sent off, a feat that no recent player has been able to match to club or country.

It is apparent the recent captains have a harder task in terms of the approach of media and that the growth of the internet and social media have led to increase spotlight pressures. Regardless of the increased forms of media the modern player seems to have lost the ability of self respect, control and professionalism that players of old exhumed.

Nick Dobson

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