Soccer captains, in today’s generation, are as important as ever. They are now expected to play the roles of ‘second managers’ for the first team squad. Whether that includes handling dressing room disputes or acting as a middleman between a disgruntled player and the manager, captain play a huge role in the club’s success both on and off the pitch.
The Premier League has seen some of the most iconic captains to have ever played the game. From Tony Adams and Roy Keane to the talismanic figure of Steven Gerrard, these players always played with their heart on their sleeves and represented everything that their club stood for. Top captains are often known for sacrificing their own personal interests for the benefit of their respective teams, as well as putting their body on the line repeatedly for the cause, inspiring their teammates to do the same.
A captain is also the ambassador of the club, and hence needs to be chosen wisely. A weak captain can lead to a demoralized and uninspired bunch of players which can be detrimental to every club’s success. Let's take a look at some of the best and worst current captains playing in the Premier League.
15 Best - Mark Noble
West Ham’s longest serving current player, Mark Noble is revered by the Hammers’ faithful. Though he had captained the club on several occasions before, he was only made the official captain of the club at the beginning of last season by new manager Slaven Bilic, and the move paid huge dividends. Noble led his team to one of its highest league finishes in a long time, as West Ham finished a respectable 6th in the table. He also had one of the best seasons of his career, with 7 goals in the Premier League and steely performances to keep the Hammers afloat in the top 6 of the table.
A one-club man, Noble has often been seen as the ideal role model for kids all around the world, and has been a brilliant ambassador for the club over the years. His remarkable work ethic combined with his honesty and professionalism make him an ideal captain. West Ham would be looking to start a long and successful journey as they officially shift to the former Olympic Stadium in London, and there’s no better man to lead them into this new beginning than Mark Noble.
14 Worst - Simon Francis
Simon Francis has been a fantastic servant for FC Bournemouth all these years. The center back has won many plaudits for his dynamic displays at the heart of defense. Initially a right back, Francis was converted into a center back and was given even more responsibility at the start of the season, with Bournemouth’s existing captain Tommy Elphick transferring to Aston Villa. The 31-year-old Francis was Eddie Howe’s pick as the new captain of the side, and things haven’t quite looked so rosy for The Cherries this season.
Bournemouth have won just 3 games in 11 matches so far, and are currently languishing in 13th place, with Francis in particular being blamed for a number of questionable decisions at the back, directly leading to crucial goals being conceded. His ability to organize and galvanize the entire back four has been repeatedly questioned and if his form along with the team’s moral doesn’t improve anytime soon, Howe may have to elect a new captain.
13 Best - José Fonte
One of the most consistently impressive center backs in the Premier League in recent times, José Fonte’s been the mainstay of Southampton’s much appreciated defense ever since he was elected as the captain in 2014. Despite high profile managerial changes and a huge outflow of talented players every season, primarily to Liverpool, Southampton are renowned for always having a brilliant defensive record in the league and a lot of credit for that should go to their captain, who has been rock solid and loyal at the back.
Under Fonte’s captaincy, Southampton have consistently featured in the top 7 of the Premier League, and have become one of the most well loved clubs in England. Despite being in big demand after winning the Euro 2016 title with Portugal, Fonté shunned many of the top clubs in the world to stay at Southampton and lead his team out for another season, proving his loyalty yet again and establishing his status as a firm fan favorite.
12 Worst - Wayne Rooney
One of Manchester United’s best players in their long and illustrious history, it won’t be wrong to award legendary status to Wayne Rooney. However, ever since Louis Van Gaal chose to elect the dynamic forward as the club’s captain, his form has drastically dropped, as have the club’s fortunes. With additional responsibility of leading the side out, Rooney transformed into a deep lying midfielder, greatly sacrificing his undoubted attacking prowess.
United finished a dismal fourth and fifth respectively in two seasons with Rooney as their captain, and with new manager Jose Mourinho electing to retain him as captain, they are still languishing out of the top 4 this season. Although Rooney is also England’s skipper, his captaincy has been doubted several times and many have called for him to be dropped from the national squad all together. Based on form, Rooney may no longer merit a starting spot in Mourinho’s squad and that could have serious consequence for his status as the club’s captain.
11 Best - Wes Morgan
Leicester City defied all odds and continued to create one of the most inspirational stories in the history of sport last year. From a club barely escaping relegation just a year ago, to the Champions Of England in the summer of 2016, the Foxes completely stunned the soccer world. While the likes of Riyadh Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N’golo Kanté completely stole the limelight for their undoubted brilliance, there were many underrated stars who played a massive role in their historic title win, none more so than their talismanic captain Wes Morgan.
The burly Jamaican has been a truly inspirational leader on the pitch, often seen rallying the Foxes’ players from the back, and was a major part of the club’s water-tight defense last season. He also pitched in with two vital winners in the league last year and has cemented his place in Leicester folklore as a true legend.
10 Worst - Curtis Davies
Davies was the former captain of Hull City before they replaced him with experienced center back Michael Dawson. Despite Hull City being regarded as everyone’s favorite bet to be relegated, considering they were effectively manager-less, Dawson led Hull City to the top of the Premier League table after 3 games, and their interim manager won the Manager of the month award for August. However, the tables turned completely when Dawson got injured in September, and was replaced by Davies, and the newly promoted side have not won a single game ever since, currently languishing in 19th place. Davies has completely lost the ability to shore up the defense and the side has looked in complete in tatters on the pitch.
A well-respected figure at the club, Davies has continued his impressive work rate but the club is in total turmoil under his captaincy, and the manager along with the fans cannot wait for Dawson to recover and return to lead the side out again.
9 Best - Hugo Lloris
The French number one goalkeeper is undoubtedly one of the most high profile players to have ever adorned the Tottenham shirt. His transfer to White Hart Lane was considered as a major statement of intent by Spurs, as his services were in demand by the likes of FC Barcelona and Arsenal among others. Following his move to London, Lloris was promptly tasked with leading the young Tottenham squad with his experience, and while the initial bedding in period was a little bit shaky, he has turned out to be the heartbeat of the current Spurs side, regularly rallying his players ahead and making full use of his commanding presence in the box.
Easily one of the very best goalkeepers in the world, Lloris’ commanding and inspirational displays at the back and effective captaincy led Tottenham to their highest ever Premier League finish last season, and almost snatched the title away from Leicester.
8 Worst - John O’Shea
The former Manchester United utility player, and, dare I say, legend, John O’Shea has undergone mixed fortunes ever since his departure from the Red Devils. Widely appreciated for his ability to operate almost anywhere on the pitch, O’Shea was chosen as Sunderland’s new captain in 2013, primarily because of the behavioral issues of the incumbent Lee Cattermole. The Irishman is well past his best years, and his recently injury struggles have seen him play just 6 of the 11 matches this season, with former skipper Cattermole taking over the leadership duties. In the last two season under O’Shea’s captaincy, the Black Cats have barely avoided relegation, finishing 16th and 17th respectively, and currently sit rock bottom of the table, with just 1 win in 11 games.
The club needs to rethink its policy and O’Shea should probably hang up his boots in the near future, as fresh new talent is urgently required for the club’s survival in the Premier League.
7 Best - Jordan Henderson
Brendan Rodgers was deemed to have lived up to his ‘deluded’ tag when he handed the young and relatively inexperienced English midfielder Jordan Henderson the chance to fill the rather large shoes of the outgoing legend Steven Gerrard, as the captain of his Liverpool side. Henderson struggled in his first few months, as expected, and though Liverpool experienced a turnaround in their fortunes mid season under Jurgen Klopp, Henderson’s captaincy was still questioned repeatedly. However, this season, Klopp’s attacking mentality has reinvigorated the Reds, and they sit on top of the league table after producing some of the best football seen at Anfield in recent years.
Henderson in particular, has been one of the standout performers in the team and is a vital component linking the team’s blazing attack with their defense. He could well be the player lifting the Premier League title at the end of the season if his team continues this form.
6 Worst - Ryan Shawcross
The longest serving player in the current Stoke City lineup, Ryan Shawcross has been absolutely massive for the club since he joined them from Manchester United. While his ability as a center back cannot be questioned, his captaincy and ability to control the senior players in the squad has often been questioned. Tall, strong, brilliant in the air and no-nonsense tackler, Shawcross has everything it takes to be the complete defender, but not the complete captain. Perennial mid-table finishers Stoke are currently in 12th place, which isn’t half bad but a lot more can be achieved with the talent that Mark Hughes has in the squad.
Still booed for his horrendous leg-breaking tackle on Aaron Ramsey in 2010, Shawcross is deemed ‘weak’ to handle the pressure of captaining a Premier League side, and is expected to be replaced by Jonathan Walters.
5 Best - Troy Deeney
Troy Deeney is by far the most loved player at Watford, and for a good reason. Deeney’s goals are the primary reason that Watford not only won promotion to the Premier League in 2015, but have also managed to steer well clear of the relegation zone ever since. Deeney is the first player in Watford’s long history to have scored 20+ goals in 3 consecutive seasons, and took his club to previously unimaginable heights. In his first season as captain of the club, his goals ensured Premier League promotion and he became a firm fan favorite.
Even after making the step up to the Premier League, Deeney formed a deadly prolific partnership with new signing Odion Ighalo and managed a respectable total of 15 goals in the 2015/16 season, with Watforf finishing in 13th place, well clear of the relegation spots. Currently, his inspiration leadership has inspired Watford to 8th in the league table, and the future looks bright for the Hornets under their charismatic captain.
4 Worst - Scott Dann
Scott Dann has been the heartbeat of Crystal Palace’s defense ever since he joined them in 2014. He was regularly regarded as one of the most underrated players in the league, with many big clubs hovering around him like vultures. However, after winning the club’s player of the year award in 2015, Dann signed a new five year contract with Palace, and with marquee signings such as Christian Benteke in place, an exciting new season awaited the Palace fans. However, the biggest blow came in the form of captain Mile Jedinak’s transfer Aston Villa, in a move which forced the club to appoint Dann as the new captain.
Things haven’t looked good for The Eagles so far this season as they sit a lowly 16th, and Dann himself has been accused of some underwhelming performances. He has already missed four games due to injury this season, and though he has popped up with two goals already, the club looks to be in a different kind of trouble as of now.
3 Best - Vincent Kompany
Belgium’s Vincent Kompany has established himself as one of the very best center backs in Premier League history. The only thing which prevents him from being labeled as an all time great is his disastrous injury record. Manchester City’s talismanic skipper leads from the front and has been in charge of the club in their most successful phase of their entire history, winning 2 Premier League titles, 2 League Cups and 1 FA cup in the just five years under his captaincy. He was nominated for the PFA Player Of The Year award in 2012 as Manchester City won their first ever Premier League title in dramatic fashion in the dying seconds of the season, and despite his constant absence due to injuries, is still a very influential personality in the City dressing room and has been pivotal in helping high profile new managers settle down at the club.
2 Worst - Leon Britton
One of the longest serving players in the current Swansea squad, Britton is a firm fan favorite, primarily because of his exceptional work rate in the middle of the park and his undying loyalty for the Welsh club. Swansea have impressed many neutrals ever since being promoted to the Premier League, with their expansive and fluid brand of play and talented locals. However, the big clubs have often poached their best players every year and the last such player to leave was their talismanic captain Ashley Williams, to Everton. Following Williams’ departure, Britton was thrust with the role of Swansea’s captain and appears to be struggling with the weight of the expectations.
Swansea had never finished below 12th under the captaincy of Williams, but under Britton, the club is languishing deep into the relegation zone, and the player himself has lost the kind of form which made him every manager’s go-to man.
1 Best - John Terry
Chelsea’s lion-heart John Terry is undoubtedly one of the most inspirational captains the game has ever seen. Captain-Leader-Legend, as he is affectionately called by the Chelsea fans, Terry is Chelsea through and through, having been at the club since he was an 8 year old ball boy at Stamford Bridge. The skipper grew up cleaning the boots of iconic players such as Dennis Wise, and eventually ended up being the club’s most successful captain in history. Regularly heralded as one of the very best defenders in the world, Terry’s captaincy skill are what truly sets him apart, with the club winning 4 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, 1 Europa League and also its maiden Champions League title under their talismanic captain.
Terry’s loyalty towards the club is unquestioned and his tendency to put his body on the line for the cause has made him a firm fan favorite at Stamford Bridge.