Part of the criteria of being the England captain during Thatcher's regime was to kiss her! (interesting fact:the man standing far right in the picture is Mick Mills who was born in Godalming!)
With all the talk about being who will be the next England manager, I was wondering who would be the next England captain now that John Terry has lost the armband.
An England captain needs to have the respect of his team mates who will do whatever he says, have great leadership qualities and be the player that will take over from the manager on the pitch. They need to be dependable, have a never-say-die attitude (sorry for the cliché!) and be proud of playing for England.
Most previous England captains have had all of these qualities. I am going to highlight several England captains from the past who are perfect examples of what I think England are lacking at the moment.
My first example is from all the way back to the 1950’s and was a model professional. Billy Wright was the captain of not only England but Wolverhampton Wanderers during their most successful time in their history. While Wolves were playing their best ever football, Billy Wright was their captain. Wright became the most capped England player with 105 caps (there are now 4 players who have made more appearances) between 1946 and 1959. He was the captain of England for the disastrous 1950 World Cup campaign when England lost to the United States.
Wright was also captain of the England team who were destroyed 6-3 by Hungary at Wembley. Many believe that if the Munich disaster didn’t occur then Billy Wright would have been the first England captain to lift the World Cup and not Bobby Moore in 1966 as the team of 1958 would have been so good.
Billy Wright was the real schoolboys hero of the 50’s and there were football books and annuals endorsed by Wright. He was also in the limelight as he married a famous pop star of the time.
Billy Wright leads England out on the occasion of his 100th cap
If Billy Wright was the idol of the 50’s, then it was definitely Bobby Moore who took over in the middle to late 60’s and early 70’s. He became world famous when he lifted the World Cup for England in 1966.
Moore made defending look easily and was a defensive marshal and orchestrated everything from the back. He was well known for his great passing and made defending look easy. He also set up two of Geoff Hurst’s goals in the World Cup Final (the first and last.)
His tackling was great as well. He famously took the ball from Pele who was running full pelt at him at Mexico ’70. He then played a simple ball and made the whole move look so easy. Making difficult things look easy is what great players can do and Moore was someone who did this in style.
Moore had a squeaky clean image and was thoughtful too. When he went up to lift the World Cup at Wembley, he knew he would have to shake hands with the Queen. He rubbed his muddy hands down on the velvet over the front of the counter where the World Cup trophy was sitting in front of the Queen!
His squeaky clean image was attempted to be tainted in Columbia in the build up to the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Some people set him up by claiming he stole a bracelet from a shop. He was detained for a while but then the girl from the shop admitted Moore was innocent.
Moore won 108 caps for England between 1962 and 1973 and will always go down in history for being the captain who lifted the World Cup for England.
Bobby Moore meets the greatest player in the world at Mexico '70
Later on in the ‘70s Emlyn Hughes was the captain of England and was another player with a squeaky clean image. His nickname was Crazy Horse and he was manager of England, the most successful team of the 70s (Liverpool) and a team on A Question of Sport. He even flirted with Princess Anne when she was a guest on A Question of Sport!
Emlyn 'Crazy Horse' Hughes makes a new friend filming A Question of Sport!
I believe that England needs a captain like Hughes, Moore and Wright. Someone who has not been involved in any controversy (this rules out quite a lot of the current England squad!) would be ideal as he would be a great role model for younger fans.
During most of the 1980’s, Bryan Robson was England’s captain but he would get injured far too frequently. He threw himself into every challenge and would get injured as a result of this.
Robson was playing for an improving Manchester United team and was nicknamed ‘Captain Marvel’ and was the ultimate role model. He won 90 caps between 1980 and 1991 and also held the record for quickest goal in a World Cup game (27 seconds v France 1982).
Bryan Robson dislocates his shoulder and rules himself out of the rest of the Mexico '86 World Cup. He did the same in Italia '90
Other players who were great examples of leaders and had real pride wearing the Three Lions were Terry Butcher, Paul Ince and Stuart Pearce.
Butcher was famously pictured with a head wound bleeding profusely after a game against Sweden. This game was a World Cup qualifier and England got the necessary result that took them to the Italia ’90 World Cup. He had to have the injury stitched up but was adamant to carry on and get the result for England.
He ran back out again and when he headed the ball , he opened the wound again. The ball was spattered with blood and there were puddles of blood on the pitch!
For some reason, no one would swap shirts with Butcher after the game!
Stuart Pearce was as patriotic as you could get. He would belt out the national anthem before every game with pride and lived up to his nickname ‘Psycho’! He was hard in the tackle and took one of the most powerful free kicks in the game. He was an ideal captain for England but Tony Adams had the armband around that time.
Stuart Pearce celebrates scoring a penalty against Spain in Euro '96, getting rid of the memories of his miss in Italia '90 against West Germany
Paul Ince, also known as ‘The Guv’nor’ was also a passionate midfielder, similar to Bryan Robson. He would give his all in every game he played in whether it be for his club or country.
The same injury that happened to Butcher also happened to Ince in the final World Cup qualifier for the 1998 World Cup when England were playing Italy at the Stadio Olimpico. He too cut his head open and carried on playing with a bandage wrapped around his head!
Tony Adams was another player who would as the cliché goes “wear his heart on his sleeve” and these sort of players are really lacking in the current England squad. John Terry is probably the player that had that ‘British Bulldog’ style spirit but he has been involved in more controversy than most in the last few years.
Now that's pride!
The one player I admire the most in the England set up who I think would be a great captain is Scott Parker.
He started his career at Charlton Athletic and looked very promising. He made a big money move over to Celsea but never really got much first team action with all the multi million pound signings made as the Abramovich era took over.
Parker then moved across London to West Ham United and made a name for himself there. He made his way back into the England set up and was linked to several highly ranked clubs.
In the end, he joined Tottenham and has looked like a fantastic bargain buy. He has excelled under Harry Redknapp and with Redknapp looking the favourite to take over from Fabio Capello as England manager, Parker looks to be the man who will take the armband.
He is a model professional and hasn’t been involved in any controversy. He too would be similar to Bryan Robson in that he is tenacious in the tackle, commands the midfield and really is a midfield general.
Future England captain?