Granit Xhaka’s angry reaction to his own fans booing him upon being substituted at home to Crystal Palace last month led to him losing his role as Arsenal captain.
Is the art of captaincy dying or evolving to keep up with a changing game? In a documentary on talkSPORT tonight, some of the biggest names in sport examine what it means to be a captain today.
“Ideally it’s a guy who is the voice of his manager in the dressing room,” says the Frenchman, who was the Arsenal manager for 22 years. “It’s a guy who can remind people what they are there for and what is the target, and he is listened to.
“What’s changed a bit now is that every player in the big clubs is basically a club within a club. They have their own advisers, their own video specialists, their own fitness coaches. So it’s more complicated today.”
The former Manchester United full back, capped 85 times by England, says: “At United, when I first broke in, there were seven captains; Steve Bruce, Eric Cantona, Mark Hughes, Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Bryan Robson and Peter Schmeichel.
“The manager is never in the changing room in the training ground so he is away from you most of the time. You need to make sure your captain and those senior players have the right work ethic, the right standards and the younger players below them are always looking up to them and thinking, ‘That’s what I need to do.’ ”
“In sports psychology there are three types of captain,” he says. “One is what we call a task captain, how well do you execute your role. The other is a motivational captain and the third is an external captain, who is a social leader of the group who might have other tasks in making sure everybody is OK. Rarely does a person do all three.
I think of players like Billy Bremner, Tony Adams and Roy Keane — he would be a great example of task and motivational. You wouldn’t want to be in the same team as Keane if you weren’t pulling your weight.
“With more modern players — Vincent Kompany is an obvious example. He would be a task and motivational captain but it is easier to pick out players of yesteryear and the past ten years than it is today.”
The former Wales and Lions rugby captain says: “I had a daughter in 2016 so from then I didn’t want the captaincy. I had a new found perspective and I can’t say I enjoyed being captain. In hindsight it was such a privilege, I’m glad I’ve done it and I’d do it all over again but it was more enjoyable not being captain. I thought I’d rather continue to be a leader, still in the leadership group, but I didn’t want the captaincy. It’s just the weight of it.”
“It is about the way I was brought up, the values from my parents and friends, I’ve had that responsibility for my whole life,” the Liverpool captain says. “Having a younger sister I looked after when I was quite young, I always had that responsibility to look after people.
“Brendan Rodgers [the former Liverpool manager] saw the leadership within me and felt I could lead Liverpool, which gave me a lot of confidence.”
Frank Lampard on John Terry
“John was a natural leader in all senses,” says the Chelsea legend about his former captain at Stamford Bridge. “He was chest-thumping, you’d watch a game and you could see he was the leader. But he also had lots of touches behind the scenes, which are the important thing when you take everything away. I was vice-captain and quite happily so because he would have everyone’s phone number in the building in his phone and I didn’t. He played with a quality, a determination, an absolute desire to be successful that rubbed off on the squad, and in terms of work he had a huge humility to him.”
“The one thing all good leaders demonstrate is a care for the people that are in and around them,” the former West Ham United and England left back says. “If you and I are working together and you know I’ve got your back and care about you then you are more likely to follow me as a leader than if you think ‘hang on, this fella is just in it for himself’.
“I always think that as a captain I had to set an example, on the training pitch and away from it as well, in how you live your life. Live like you would want the rest of your team to live.”
● The Art of Captaincy, narrated by Henry Winter will be aired talkSPORT tonight from 8-9pm
At Oxford United FC we’re all for sharing, and we’d like to share our good practice about how, by using sports psychotherapy, we’ve moved to the cutting edge of mental health and wellbeing in the footballing community.
To that end we’re launching a series of one-day events, sharing good practice about the benefits of sports psychotherapy. The interactive format features a focus on enabling delegates to gain practical ways to improve current practice, and how to have an immediate impact.
Whether you’re a coach or a student of the game, an experienced sports psychologist or just starting out on your journey, there will be plenty to interest you in the first of our conference programmes.
Brought to you in association with Sports Psychotherapy Services, we look at the pioneering work Oxford United Football Club are doing in the field of sports psychotherapy, and the impact it is having on footballing performance. This will include:
- What is Sports Psychotherapy?
- Adapting your communication to take account of generational differences
- How to harness the parental influence on young athletes
- What an effective reporting system for mental health issues looks like
- The relationship between player care and success
The event will include an introduction to sports psychotherapy and presentations from OUFC personnel and a number of eminent speakers representing related disciplines and sectors.