Goalkeepers: Your Best Bet for Captaincy

Shawn SieiroContributor IApril 15, 2008

Captains come and captains go.

But who make the best captains?

I'm not talking about players but rather position wise. Word from Capello is that Rooney would be a possible captain in the future and some have suggested that defenders rather than strikers make the best captains. 

I beg to differ on both counts. I believe goalkeepers make the best captains. Stop huffing and keep reading.

As I said two seconds earlier, many people suggest defenders make the best captains, and I wonder why.

Is it because defenders have a better overall command of strategy and the game in general? Is it because defenders, especially center backs, have a wider range than any other position, able to run up and score while at the same time backstop attacking players from the opposing team.

Or maybe it comes down to something as simple as the fact that defenders are usually the least tired players at the end of 90 minutes, discounting goalkeepers. 

Ask yourselves what these following players have in common:

Carlos Alberto Torres
Franz Anton Beckenbauer
Hileraldo Luis Bellini
Marcos Evangelista de Moraes [Cafu]
Fabio Mamerto Cannavaro
Didier Deschamps
Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri [Dunga]
Mauro Ramos de Oliveira
Robert Frederick Chelsea "Bobby" Moore
Daniel Alberto Passarella

If you guessed that they were all defenders you are right. And if you guessed "They are all World Cup winning captains" you must be one hell of a stud at soccer trivia games. 

Indeed, save for Beckenbauer and Oliveira, the rest are all pure defenders, able to not only carry the ball up, as was in the case of Cafu's famous overlapping runs, but also stone opposing attackers, as is in the case of the incredible Cannavaro.

So what about midfielders? Only three winning World Cup captains have played in the midfield position: Diego Armando Maradona, Lothar Herbert Matthäus and Obdulio Jacinto Muiños Varela. 

I feel midfielders on the whole tire out faster and have too much of a hard-nosed mentality, attracted to physical play and prone not only to injuries but also cards. Midfielders I find, are also highly selfish about their positions and the way they want to play the game. They have a set formula they run in their head and chemistry with the team is paramount to succeed in this position. 

And what about those forwards? Only one winning World Cup captain has played up front [or rather only one that I know of]: Giuseppe Meazza.


Meazza is generally regarded as one of the best Italians to ever play the game. Influential enough that the San Siro is now officially called Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

Forwards I find tire out too easily, are more susceptible to bad play and overall don't have as much contact with the rest of the team on the field than defenders and midfielders.

Strikers don't require as much chemistry with defenders and defensive midfielders and feast on the understanding between himself/herself and the striking partner. Or in the case of Greece... you can stand there by yourself. 

And lastly, what about Goalkeepers. I never had the captain's armband handed to me but two goalies who have went on to win the World Cup. Gianpiero Combi and Dino Zoff.

Goalkeepers in my estimates would make the best captains due to the fact that they have the best view of the whole field, can map out strategies, are more level headed on the field and generally command more respect from peers, opponents and officials.

Goalies have a better visual range than anyone else on the team and don't have to worry about being offensive or defensive, rather marshal the troops in position, map out tendencies of opposing strikers and midfielders and not to mention the fact that, other than running up for a corner kick and back down, have great stamina and do not tire through constant jockeying for the ball and running.

Injury wise goalies are taught when young how to "fall" and goalies, while not as conditioned as most midfielders, have the luxury of the fact that they cannot be touched by opponents.

So there you go, my reasoning why goalies make the best captains. My personal best?

Peter Schmeichel.

Given the captain's armband with the loss of a suspended Roy Keane, Schmeichel carried Manchester United to that famous 1999 Champion's League final victory over Oliver Khan's Bayern Munich.

Bayern had a 1-0 lead until the dying minutes of the match, when United received a corner kick. Schmeichel ran blindly into the attack, attempting to cause some confusion amongst the Germans, and Sheringham scored the equalising goal.

A few seconds later the baby-faced assassin, Solskjaer scored the 2-1 winner for United.

Sadly that was Schmeichel's last game for the club.


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