What makes the perfect captain? ‘Well, he has to be a bloody good player first!’
Martin Keown gets straight to the point during talkSPORT’s new documentary, The Art of Captaincy , which will be broadcast at 8pm on Wednesday.
There will be contributions from Gary Neville, Brendan Rodgers, Jordan Henderson and Frank Lampard, while Arsenal legends Keown and Arsene Wenger also feature.
Legendary manager Arsene Wenger features in talkSPORT’s new documentary, The Art of Captaincy
Keown played alongside one of the all-time great skippers of English football, Tony Adams, who famously captained a title-winning team in three different decades.
And it’s fair to say Keown values Adams’ on-pitch abilities as much as his leadership skills.
“Well, he has to be a bloody good player first. Somebody who wants to win at all costs,” says Keown on the perfect captain. “[He must be] a good communicator and a link between the management and the players.
“Above all else, when he takes to the pitch I want someone I can rely upon. Somebody I can look to in his performance, in his drive and his desire to win.”
Adams was Arsenal captain when Wenger joined the Gunners as manager, and he retained the armband until retiring in 2002.
The Frenchman had a dressing room full of leaders during his early years in north London and believes having more than one captain figure to call upon is a necessity.
“Ideally it’s a guy who is the voice of his manager in the dressing room,” adds Wenger. “He’s respected by others, he can maintain a good level of focus in the dressing room because there are always ups and downs in the spirit.
“It’s a guy who can remind people what they are there for and what is the target, and he is listened to by people.
“If you have three or four, it’s better than only one because the one is not always there.
“What’s changed a little bit in the game now is that every player in the big clubs is basically a club within a club. They have their own advisors, their own video specialists, their own fitness coaches, their own physios sometimes. So it’s a little bit more complicated today.”
Outspoken talkSPORT pundit Simon Jordan, the former Crystal Palace chairman, also weighs in on the discussion, suggesting only individuals of a certain ‘calibre’ deserve the honour of wearing the armband.
He says: “I’d like to see, in an ideal world, captains of football teams being leaders, being statesmen, being players of a certain calibre, being players of a certain character, representing what the fans want to see, which is a backbone, a bit of spirit, discipline and pride in their environment.
“Most of all, leadership is at the centre of it.”