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The 5 greatest captains in the Premier League era

Scott Newman
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 15:26 IST

Liverpool v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League
Steven Gerrard was one of the Premier League's most inspirational captains

The role of the captain of a football team is always something that causes debate – should they lead by shouting at their teammates and inspiring them on to victory?

Or should they be quieter and lead by example – by playing to the best of their ability? Can a goalkeeper really be an effective captain?

Most recently, the role of the captain has been brought into question altogether, largely by the fact that teams like Liverpool have often not had their ‘club’ captain on the field altogether. That serves up the question; does a team need an effective captain at all?

Well, the following five players certainly make the point that a team definitely needs an effective captain and can be far better for it.

These five led their team to victory time after time – even when the odds seemed impossible. Here are five of the best captains in Premier League history.

#1 Roy Keane

Roy Keane captained Manchester United to 4 Premier League titles
Roy Keane captained Manchester United to four Premier League titles

No team have been as successful in the Premier League as Manchester United and in their most dominant era – from the early 90’s until the mid-2000’s – they were driven by one of the most inspirational captains in the history of the game, combative Irish midfielder Roy Keane.

Keane took over the captaincy of the team at the beginning of the 1997/98 season when Eric Cantona unexpectedly retired but missed most of that campaign with a knee injury.

United lost the Premier League title to Arsenal, and as 1998/99 dawned, Keane was determined to make sure that the Red Devils took the championship back.


The Irishman ended up leading United to a treble of the league title, the FA Cup and the Champions League, and it was in the latter that perhaps his greatest display as captain took place.

Booked in the second leg of the semi-final against Juventus and thus ruled out of the final, Keane went on to put on an unbelievable performance – seemingly covering every blade of grass – and helped to haul United from two goals down to win the game 3-2, sending them through.

Keane was a great captain because not only did he hold himself to the highest possible standard, he demanded the same from all of his teammates – who were regularly dressed down by an angry Keane should they fail to do so – and even his own fans.

During his time as United captain, he won seven major trophies including four Premier League titles. More than a decade on, he remains the Red Devils’ greatest Premier League captain.

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Published 03 Apr 2018, 01:58 IST
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