When it was announced that Wayne Rooney was going to be England captain in the absence of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard for the Three Lion’s fixture against San Marino. I was pleased as I believe in this country the role of the captain is somewhat overstated. As clichéd as it sounds I believe you need plenty of players who can motivate and captivate those around you in a team not just one leader. Also I don’t believe you need an armband to complete that role, therefore Rooney seemed a great logical choice as skipper, simply because he’s England’s best player. Then I thought to myself what a disputed statement calling Rooney England’s best truly is.
Unless there is a glaringly obvious candidate for the captaincy for example Roy Keane at Manchester United, I believe you may as well make your best player captain, as that way it cannot be disputed in the dressing room that player doesn’t deserve the privilege. However while I think the Manchester United striker will go down as the most talented English footballer of the past 20 years and greatest English striker of my lifetime he may not be England’s best currently. Two players challenge him for that distinction.
First Ashley Cole could easily be regarded as England’s best, consensus of opinion suggests he is the world’s premier left back after consistent seasons of excellence. But with a horrific public image, the Chelsea man can never be under consideration for the armband regardless of his talent. Also such is the form of Leighton Baines he isn’t necessarily the first name on teamsheet. This leaves my suggestion for the England armband, Joe Hart.
Hart has developed into one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He’s young and displays the presence and confidence of someone twice his age and would be perfect as England captain. Bar one minor mishap where Hart along with two of his England and Manchester City teammates were caught boozing at a student house party, the City keeper seems extremely professional and capable of avoiding the disastrous headlines of previous England skippers.
One of the main reasons Hart appeals to me as captain is age, at just 25 and playing in goal a position where players traditionally go on for longer he could potentially be England’s undisputed captain for the next ten years ending the argument and debate of who should get the captaincy. It’s arguable that Steven Gerrard’s game is already diminishing and at 32 and with a chequered injury record in recent seasons, there is no certainty that Gerrard will make it to the World Cup in two years time. Meaning the debate about the long-term captaincy will once again be brought up in two years at the latest.
Gerrard’s position in the England team also isn’t as secure as Hart or even Rooney’s for that matter. England fans will eagerly await Jack Wilshere’s return to first team action at Arsenal. Systems and tactics will then dictate which two players fight it out for a starting berth. With Frank Lampard, Gerrard, Wilshere (who if he returns from injury and plays at a similar level to before will likely be regarded as the future of English football) and Michael Carrick all fighting for two places. That is without mentioning Tom Cleverley, who fast appears to be becoming a favourite of Roy Hodgson’s.
Hart leads through performance while also often shows the character to organise his defence and demand high standards of those in front of them. There is a feeling that defenders make the best captains, because they can see the whole picture playing out from the back but surely communication and organisation throughout a football team requires all players to regularly communicate and cooperate. Public image, rightly or wrongly comes into the reckoning when deciding who leads England, and Hart has always impressed both fans and the media. Recently his honest anger and genuine frustration at seeing Manchester City squander a lead to lose to Real Madrid impressed both the fans and media. Someone who can speak honestly and eloquently in front of the media rightly or wrongly is an important of England captaincy, that is one of the reasons that Frank Lampard are invaluable role models for the young group coming through.
Joe Hart can make the England captaincy role his own, in a manner much similar to the way he eased into role of the number one goalkeeper for the Premier League champions, and his country.
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