Yesterday, I had the strangest dream that an ex-Chelski player, who has been at Arsenal for barely a year, who had moaned and groaned throughout last season and did not endear himself to fans, and who was speaking about leaving during the summer, was handed the captain’s armband at Arsenal. You can read Arseblogger’s double take on how this piece of news and how it’s not a dream but reality.
What I am wondering about is how you choose a captain in any team sport. When we were kids, it was the general consensus that the best player was made captain. Who else could it be? Clearly, that’s not the best approach.
Other lines of thinking is that you make the player with the most experience as the captain. Or, that you make the player who’s the most vocal the captain. Or, that you make someone who is well-liked by the players the captain. One way that it’s done in college (American) football is that players vote for their captains, which seems to work pretty well for them. There are other theories too I am sure.
My take on this is that a captain of a team is a leader, someone who is a mentor to the younger players, someone who leads by example and inspires people, someone who is not afraid to take tough decisions (like yell at a star player for instance), and someone who has the respect of his team. Some captains are quiet on the field, some are vocal, both both types of captains can be equally effective.
I think that having the respect of your team and being able to inspire people are the most important because if a captain has those attributes, their teammates will rally together and fight as one unit. In a team sport, having someone who can make that happen is invaluable.
When you think of a Beckenbaur, or more recently, Patrick Vieira or Roy Keane, these are the attributes that come to mind. Whether Monsieur Gallas will be good, let alone great, only time will tell.
For now, let’s offer our condolences to Gilberto, the current Brazilian captain and the person widely tipped to be captain.