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Five greatest captains of the Premier League era

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Srihari

Ever since the inception of the Premier League, not only has it produced great players, it has also given birth to plenty of leaders as well. Although football is a team sport, that team lives and dies by its captain. A captain is someone much has a lot more responsibilities than just putting on the armband.

He is the leader who is supposed to stay with his team through thick and thin, even when it all seems down and out. He is the person who is supposed to lead by example and find that extra bit of something to ensure that his team cross the finish line. There have been plenty of captains who have set the stage alight, so let us take a look at the five greatest captains in the Premier League era (with the rule of choosing a maximum of one captain from one club).

5. Ledley King

To the outsider, who has only been following the Premier League over the past few years, this might seem like an odd choice. Particularly given the fact that Spurs spent over a hundred million pounds in the summer. But, ask any Spurs fan who their favorite player over the past decade was, and the answer would be unanimously Ledley King, the man who cost absolutely nothing and was a one-club man till the day he retired.

Although he made only 268 appearances in the League in his 13 year career with Spurs, he certainly was an integral part of the Spurs side. Most of his career was plagued by a chronic knee injury, which meant that he could hardly train towards the latter part of his career. But, when he did play, he was one of the finest center backs in the country. Former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, once said “even if he only plays 20 games a season, he’s worth having because he’s so good we have a much better chance of winning.”

And when he announced his retirement from football, aged just 32, owing to his knee problems, the Premier League lost, not only one of its finest footballers, but one of its greatest leaders as well.

4. John Terry

Birmingham City v Chelsea - Premier League

He is arguably one of the most hated players in the country, but is also arguably one of the greatest captains not just in the Premier League but for his national side as well. He thrown into the deep end, when he was made Chelsea captain by Jose Mourinho in 2004, when he was just 23 years old. And like any great leader, he caught the drift, before it was too late.

Having taken over the armband from Marcel Desailly, he has proven to be more than a worthy successor, having overseen the club’s most successful decade in their history. And whilst managers have come and gone around him, in those 10 years, he has remained an ever-present and is still an inspiration to many, at the club.

His reign as captain has seen him win 12 major honours, including the Premier League thrice and the Champions League once. Whilst his name was besmirched by controversy of late, he still remains an influential leader for the Blues, on the pitch.

3. Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard of Liverpool takes a free kick

If there ever was a captain, who leads his team by example and is always on hand to pull a rabbit out of the hat, when all seems lost, it can be no one but Steven Gerrard. Ever since taking over the captaincy from Sami Hyypia in October 2003, Steven Gerrard has certainly been Mr. Liverpool. He has always been there, when his side needed him the most and was never afraid to take a game by the scruff of the neck.

Apart from being one of the finest central midfielders of his generation, Gerrard also had the ability to take matters into his own hands and will his team to victory. Two very famous instances of this will be Liverpool’s Champions League win over AC Milan in 2004/05 final and his performance against West Ham in the 2006 FA Cup Final. On both occasions, Gerrard took matters into his own hands and led the team forward.

Not just this, he has scored numerous screamers in the league and has played over 450 League games and scored over 100 goals for his hometown club. Although he has never won the Premier League, he was won a total of 11 trophies including the FA Cup twice and the League Cup thrice.

4. Tony Adams

Arsenal captain, Tony Adams in action

Although Arsenal have had a whole host of creative players come through the ranks and ply their trade at the club, arguably their greatest player was a defender. Tony Adams became Arsenal’s captain at the ripe old age of 21 in 1988. He continued to keep hold of the armband until the day he finally called it quits, a little over 14 years later. Adams was Arsenal through and through and played with the senior side for a staggering 19 years and made over 500 League appearances for the club.

Under his stewardship, the Gunners managed to win four League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups and a grand total of 13 trophies in all during his time at the club. He was an inspiration to everyone at the club and set the standards high for those that followed him. More than anything else, he was the last of a dying breed- a one club man. In honour of his contribution to the side, the Arsenal legend even has a statue of him at the Emirates Stadium.

5. Roy Keane

Manchester United v Sparta Prague

When Cantona announced his retirement out of the blue in 1997, there was only one man that wanted it more than anybody else. And that one man, was Roy Keane, who went to captain one of the most successful club sides of his generation. He was the player that everybody in the team respected and was an inspiration to every single player in the dressing room. He is the club’s most successful captain in terms of trophies won.

The Irishman was the captain of a United side, which won an unprecedented treble in the 1998/99 season and also went onto win three consecutive Premier League titles. But, arguably his finest hour was not in the League, but in Europe, when he, even after knowing that he wouldn’t take part in the final, covered every blade of grass to inspire United to a famous victory in Turin in the semi-final of the 1999 Champions League.

And that is why, whilst there might be better players, there is no better captain than him, in the history of the Premier League.

Edited by Staff Editor

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