Captain plays a very important role in any sport and football is no different. We have seen over the years that English Premier League is the most followed football extravaganza across the globe. It is impossible for any football fan to miss a game of his favorite team in the EPL. The successful teams have been led by successful leaders, who have given their all in the quest for success. Here, we look at three of the best captains in the Premier League era.
Patrick Vieira (Arsenal)
He rose to prominence during a hugely successful spell at Arsenal from 1996 to 2005, where he eventually became club captain, and won three Premier League titles – one unbeaten – and four FA Cups. Vieira was a complete, powerful, tenacious and aggressive footballer, with outstanding physical, athletic and technical attributes. Usually deployed as a defensive, central, or box-to-box midfielder, he was a competent tackler, and a tactically intelligent midfielder, gifted with good ball skills, distribution and vision, which enabled him to start attacking plays in midfield after winning back possession. These attributes, in addition to his pace, strength, pressing ability and stamina, allowed him to link up the defence with the attack effectively, and made him capable of playing anywhere in midfield. He was appointed as captain six years after he joined the club. As a captain, the former French international led his club to two FA Cup victories, and two Community Shields and one Premier League title. The 2003–04 season under his captaincy was a successful one for Arsenal, as they reclaimed the league title and became the first English team in more than a century to go through the entire league season unbeaten.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Gerrard spent 17 seasons at Anfield, making his Liverpool debut in 1998, cementing his place in the first team in 2000, and succeeding Sami Hyypia as team captain in 2003. His honours include two FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Cup, and one UEFA Super Cup. Gerrard scored Liverpool’s first goal and won the penalty kick for the third as Liverpool came from 3–0 down to defeat Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final. A versatile and well-rounded player who is regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation, Gerrard was capable of playing in a number of positions. A hardworking box-to-box player, he was usually deployed as a central midfielder, but he had also been used as a second striker, a holding midfielder, an attacking midfielder, a right back, and a right winger. In addition to creating goals, Gerrard, naturally right footed, had the ability to score goals due to his striking ability from distance with both feet. Renowned for his pace, work-rate and stamina in his prime, his main attributes in his later career were his vision, ball striking, and his accurate, varied passing range. He was Liverpool’s captain for 12 years and led the team to four trophies. In his guidance, the team won FA Cup, FA Community Shield, UEFA Champions League and League Cup.
Roy Keane (Manchester United)
In his 18-year-long playing career, he played for Cobh Ramblers, Nottingham Forest, and Manchester United, before ending his career at Celtic. Keane was a dominating defensive midfielder, noted for his aggressive and highly competitive style of play, an attitude that helped him excel as captain of Manchester United from 1997 until his departure in 2005. Joining the club in 1993, Keane helped United achieve a sustained period of success during his twelve year tenure at the club. He then signed for Celtic but retired as a player less than a year later. His term at Manchester United will be remembered the most by fans and critics. After Eric Cantona’s unexpected retirement, Keane took over as club captain, although he missed most of the 1997–98 season because of a cruciate ligament injury. Keane returned as captain of the side the following season, and guided them to a treble of the FA Premier League, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League. Apart from the above mentioned trophies, he led United to three more Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one Intercontinental Cup (the FIFA Club World Cup today). Manchester United has never found a leader like him after his departure from the club.