10 greatest football captains of all time

  • The criteria of a great captain is far from absolute, however, these players have inspired their teams to greatness.
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 16 Mar 2017, 13:19 IST
Bobby Charlton with team-mate Nobby Stiles

A great captain doesn’t need to be the very best player on the pitch in any given team, neither do they have to be a footballer of spectacular talent. This individual does, however, needs something special that drives his teammates on towards glory. 

A captain's role is often an underappreciated one, but the man who slips on the coveted armband could in the very end prove to be the difference between a win and a loss, between a good team and a bad team and become remembered as one of the greats of the game. The importance of captaincy in football has been argued for decades, but it’s still often matters of great interest as to which player is picked by a manager to captain his side.

In no particular order, the following is the list of the 10 players who best manage to symbolise these attributes, thus placing them in the pantheon of football.

#10 Bobby Charlton

Throughout this list there are plenty of defenders and midfield destroyers, so it’s only fair we add a brilliant attacking player and former captain. Manchester United living legend, Bobby Charlton, was that rarest of beasts and an inspirational captain who also doubled as a truly sensational player in his own way.  

The sheer magnitude of Charlton’s contribution to both Manchester United and England is simply extraordinary and very difficult to put into words.

After making his debut as a teenager in 1956, Charlton when on to score as many as 250 goals in nearly 258 appearances for the Red Devils, only Ryan Giggs has made more appearances for the club since then.

However, it was more than his tremendous achievements that sparked his international recognition, although the man won everything that was on offer. Charlton was a gentleman and as a captain, he was brilliant, leading the team after the Munich air crash.    

A survivor of the Munich air crash in 1958 that claimed the lives of so many brilliant young players, Charlton was the player who led the team 10 years later as Manchester United became England's first European champions. A magnificent Benfica team were downed 4-1 after extra time, with the man himself hitting two goals to crown a Manchester United career that had spanned nearly 17 years, more than 750 games, three league titles, and an FA cup trophy. 

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Published 16 Mar 2017, 12:04 IST
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