What makes the perfect captain?

Don Goodman, Luther Blissett, Mark Bright and Viv Anderson talk to Goal regarding the changing attributes of a skipper and the skills required to wear the armband
'Captain'. A small word with big responsibilities.

But what makes a good captain? Experience? Leadership? Motivation? Respect?

Some managers look to players who have been there and done it (and, possibly, own a t-shirt proclaiming as such).

Nemanja Vidic was selected by Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in the history of English football, due to his ability to marshal a defence with his domineering approach; both physically and vocally.

Paolo Di Canio, for example, has appointed John O’Shea as Sunderland captain.

The 32-year-old’s experience at Old Trafford, and the 15 honours collected during his time there, is hoped to stand him in good stead at the Stadium of Light.

Aston Villa wasted no time in making Ron Vlaar skipper upon his arrival at the club. The centre-back’s time at Feyenoord, competing at the top of Eredivisie, was viewed as more reliable then previous incumbent Darren Bent.

Fabio Capello famously resigned from his post as England manager when John Terry was stripped as captain by the Football Association in February 2012. Which begs the question, should so much importance be placed on the armband?

"Yes, I think so," Don Goodman - who has over 600 appearances in British football under his belt - told Goal.

"Captains have lots of different responsibilities. Not just winning the toss, but on and off the pitch. They're responsible for running the plan on the pitch - the manager's conductor if you like.

"Leadership on and off the pitch [is the most important quality as a captain]. Set an example. Motivate your players. Try to teach good habits. The best captain is a model of consistency on the pitch."

"Sam Ellis of Watford," Luther Blissett replied when asked who the most impressive captain he played under was. "He was very intelligent and had a really good command of everyone. He wasn't young but the experience he had and the way he imparted it. He also really cared for us younger players, we looked up to him."

Adam Lallana, of Southampton, and Ryan Shawcross, of Stoke City, are the two youngest skippers in the Premier League.

The Saints leader has risen through the ranks at St Mary’s, with his apparent loyalty being rewarded by both Nigel Adkins and Mauricio Pochettino, while Shawcross has racked up nearly 250 appearances in seven seasons – missing just five outings since 2010-11.

But Mark Bright feels the natural leaders of previous generations are a thing of the past, with a change in tactical approach forcing differing requirements on the pitch.

"The Premier League used to be very aggressive, it’s more tactical and technical now so the Terry Butchers and the Tony Adams figures are gone," Bright added.

"John Terry really  does lead the team, you can see on the pitch how vocal he is."

So, surely, a modern-day captain must boast a little bit of everything.

One of the most high-profile examples of an all-encompassing performance was Steven Gerrard's for Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League final.

"The qualities of a good captain is that he leads by example, and has the ability to make people around them perform when things are not going well on the pitch," Viv Anderson added.

Gerrard headed home the Reds' first goal to start a stunning three-goal comeback to eventually clinch the trophy after a penalty shootout, literally grabbing the ball and urging his team-mates and those in the stands with his celebrations.

I leave the last word to Blissett: "Captains have to be a good communicator and that doesn't mean someone who rants and raves, shouts and stomps. It's someone who says what they need to, when they need to, to whom they need to. And sometimes that can be a quiet word in someone's ear."

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