5 best captains in Premier League history

Roy Keane of Manchester United
Roy Keane of Manchester United
Shambhu Ajith

The Premier League has produced some of the best leaders we have seen in modern football.

The all-action, high-intensity nature of the Premier League urges players to bring out the most unflinching version of themselves on the field. As the famous saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. We've seen some of the toughest footballers on the planet lead Premier League sides to glory over the past three decades.

A captain has to show an incredible amount of resolve and a never-say-die attitude. That still won't be enough if he can't get his teammates to resolutely commit to the cause until the final whistle is blown. As such, a captain also needs to be a leader of men whose path his teammates will confidently follow.

We've seen plenty of such players. Here, we take a look at five of the best Premier League captains in history.

#5 Steven Gerrard - Liverpool

AFC Wimbledon v Liverpool - FA Cup Third Round
AFC Wimbledon v Liverpool - FA Cup Third Round

If anyone needs to be initiated in what being a true leader is all about, a rewatch of the historic Champions League night in Istanbul from 2005 should sort them out. Lack of a Premier League title will always remain a stain on his spectacular Liverpool career but Stevie G is undoubtedly one of the best Premier League captains ever.

He did come close twice and it is quite unfortunate that he inadvertently contributed to one of those slipping through the Merseysiders' hands. But as far as leadership qualities are concerned, Steven Gerrard was one of the best in the business.

He led by example and gave his all every time the team needed him to. He was great with his teammates too and could rally them on to accomplish great things like their UEFA Champions League triumph in 2005. Gerrard is the greatest Premier League captain to have never won a Premier League title.

#4 Patrick Vieira - Arsenal

Liverpool v Arsenal
Liverpool v Arsenal

Patrick Vieira capped off his legendary stint at Arsenal with the winning penalty in Arsenal's 2005 FA Cup triumph. It was a fitting end to a great spell in North London and there was an abundance of evidence that goes to show why Vieira was the perfect replacement in the captain's role for the great Tony Adamas.

Vieira has the unique distinction of having led a team through an entire season without tasting defeat. Vieira's 'Invincibles' will be remembered forever for the absolute dominance they showed in the Premier League back when Sir Alex Ferguson and his golden boys were running riot.

And how can one forget the intense rivalry he shared with the legendary Manchester United captain Roy Keane? Stuff of legends.

#3 Vincent Kompany - Manchester City

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City - Premier League
Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City - Premier League

Manchester City's rebuild under new ownership saw no shortage of funds and no shortage of quality personnel. However, there are some things that money cannot buy. But they had an admirable Vincent Kompany leading the side and that somehow made Manchester City's big money-powered upgrade digestible to many.

Kompany's influence at Manchester City went beyond the pitch and he is a great human being who will not be forgotten by the good folks of Manchester for the amount of charity work he has done.

The Belgian was a man for the big occasion and always stood up and delivered when the situation needed him the most. He even went out on that note in his final season, scoring an absolute scorcher from range to break the deadlock in the game against Leicester City to get Manchester City three invaluable points to help them shake Liverpool off their back.

Kompany won four Premier League titles with Manchester City and his presence was sorely missed in the 2019/20 season as Pep's side struggled to replicate their form of old without their captain egging them on.

#2 John Terry - Chelsea

Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League
Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League

John Terry was a leader of men and he was able to bring together some of the greatest players to have graced the Premier League and unify them in a quest to break the duopoly exercised over the league title by Manchester United and Arsenal.

Terry is one of the greatest centre-backs of all time and he was just as adept with the ball at his feet as he was without it. Jose Mourinho was able to transform Chelsea into one of the best teams in Europe thanks to John Terry's leadership qualities.

Mourinho's expensive squad went out fighting like every game was their last and they reaped the rewards for it, winning back-to-back Premier League titles in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons. Terry captained Chelsea for 13 years from 2004 to 2017 and won five Premier League titles along the way.

#1 Roy Keane - Manchester United

Just another day at work for Roy Keane
Just another day at work for Roy Keane

The greatest of them all. You didn't go to play football with Roy Keane. You went to war with him. He'd leave his heart bleeding on the ground if that's what it took for him to win a game for Manchester United. The belligerent, unforgiving Irishman was as old school as they come and will forever be remembered as one of the Premier League greats.

Keane inherited the captain's armband from Eric Cantona and had already won four Premier League titles by then. He then led a group of youngsters to a continental treble in the 1998/99 season and won four Premier League titles in the seven seasons he spent as captain.

Keane was all about that winning mentality and his run-ins with Patrick Vieira, particularly his confrontation with the Frenchman in the tunnel at Highbury in 2005, epitomizes what and how much leading Manchester United as captain meant to the absolute mental commander of Ferguson's cruise ship.

Edited by Shambhu Ajith
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