Does Being Captain Mean Anything?
Much has been made of John Terry being reinstated as England captain. Perhaps too much. The main issue is that Fabio Capello has gone back on his decision to take the armband off of Terry for his inexplicable off field behaviour with a team mates girlfriend. It was a big call back when all was revealed about Terry’s private life, and to go back on such a big ruling shows signs of weakness. It undermines Capello’s tough, no nonsense approach to coaching. That argument is understandable, but in today’s modern age of football, the question is; does being captain mean anything, or is it simply a symbol?
Lets get this straight. The ideal captain should have outstanding qualities that other players in the team do not possess; they should be a natural winner, they should be a beacon of inspiration, a passionate, brave, respectable person – someone who will take responsibility for their mistakes, wear their heart on their sleeve and be able to make massive sacrifices for the good of the team. They also need the have great footballing ability in their position. It looks a big ask. It also looks as if the England team have a good few players who have those qualities – or does it?
When David Beckham gave up the England captaincy, which he held for many years, with great integrity and heart, told of the honour it was to wear the armband for his country. He said that he had “lived the dream”, and was the “greatest honour of his career” to captain his country. This is a man who absolutely lives for football, and loves his country. He led by example, on and off the field. In the main, he conducted himself in admirable principle and honesty. It obviously meant a lot to him.
When Ferdinand was made captain after Terry’s removal from the ‘position’, he too gave the impression of being ready to live the dream that all youngsters have; to lead their country onto a football pitch to fight to win. He said:
“I like the responsibility. Every youngster grows up wanting to be captain of their club or the team they lead out. This is England and there is no higher accolade than leading out your country.
That may be, but he added to the end of this passionate show of ambition:
“But it won’t mean as much if we don’t win anything.”
What have England won in the last 45 years or so? Nothing. So does that mean every captain before him and ahead of him have failed in their main aim? Yes it does. Interestingly, the Manchester United defender continued:
“I have always said if there is something that needs to be said in the changing-room then I will speak my mind whether I am captain or not.
Why shouldn’t it be like this for every player? Every player wants to win, every player wants to be the match winner for their country, and every player wants to do their country proud. They should all stand up and act as captains, rather than quietly listen to their manager off he pitch and then watch their captain motivate them on it. When you are playing for your country, that very fact is surely the only motivation you need?
Every player should give 100% to the team whether they are captain or not. That is why I believe the captaincy is just a symbol – a symbol that has recently caused much needless controversy in the England camp. It isn’t as if we are short of controversy and trouble in this country as it is.
It seems to me that the only official roles of a captain are: to participate in the coin toss prior to kick off and penalty shoot out (the latter of which England are not very good at) and being the first player to hold aloft a trophy at the award-giving ceremony. That hasn’t happened for a while either.
So whether John Terry is captain or not is not the issue. The issue is the chemistry of the team and the willingness of them to play together to work together and to win together. The armband is only a symbol to show the rest of the players who to turn to when they are in trouble. I say fine, keep that, but do not rely on that, and work yourself with all of the passion, inspiration, bravery, responsibility and ability that a captain should show. A team of leaders is better than just one.
Tell me what you think!