Does a Soccer Team Need a Captain?

Rohini IyerSenior Writer IMarch 15, 2009

Having grown up as a cricket fan and seeing the ever-growing importance and status to cricket team captains makes me wonder about the relevance of the term "Captain" in soccer.

Now, I am not a hardcore soccer fan, as I would like myself to be, but the amount of soccer matches I have seen gives me no clue as to what underlying duty the skipper does for the team.

In all the matches I have so far seen, I haven't seen any special attribute or field duty that as a captain he has to perform. If he is a striker and the team composition involves another striker, he has to collaborate with the other striker to score goals; if he is a defender then he has to defend like the other defender. As simple as that!

Unlike cricket, where the captain barks orders when the match seems to be going out of hand, he doesn't have to do anything of that sort. Unlike a cricket captain, he can't change field placements; it's always pre-decided. So what does he actually do?

Apart from the fact that he wears an armband which boldly displays his title for those 90 minutes, exchanges the silky parchment-like stuff before the match starts with the other captain, and is involved in the toss of the coin, there is no other line of action that he has to do while on the field.

It might seem weird for me to say that I have always found cricket and soccer eerily similar. I guess it's due to the fact that both have 11 players playing, with coaches and captains involved, and also because after cricket in India, people turn their full-time attention to soccer.

But if I see on these lines too, it always looks as if a soccer team coach has got more on his head than its captain. I mean, whenever I see Sir Ferguson jumping up and down after Man U scores a goal, it somehow reminds me of Sourav Ganguly at Lord's.

So, it again brings me back to my original query along with a couple more. Why does a soccer team need a captain? On what basis is a captain chosen to lead the squad? How is it determined that a particular player has been a good captain?