A great leader is essential to a squad ambitious to win trophies.

Being the captain of a team is a major honour and responsibility. Only players that have leadership qualities and those that lead by example can take the responsibility. Wearing the armband sets a player apart from the rest, one who has to marshall the troops on the pitch. A great captain can be the difference between a team that underwhelms or a team that dominates.

A captain is not always someone who is the most talented or someone who scores the most goals. Only players that have a strong personality, winning mentality, unwavering composure and a will to win at all costs get the armband. In the modern era, Jordan Henderson is one of the players that fit the above description. The Englishman may not be the most flashy player, but he leads the Reds brilliantly. Under his leadership, the club has won several trophies, including the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League

In club football, over the past many years, there have been several iconic captains. These players created a legacy at their respective clubs and have a legendary status in them. Here is a look at the five greatest club captains in football’s history:

5. Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer is a football royalty. Few players have a bigger stature than the German legend. He single-handedly created and popularised the sweeper defender role. Captaining FC Bayern Munich, he took the club to incredible heights.

“The Kaiser” together with Gerd Muller dominated the domestic league and won plenty of titles. Under Beckenbauer’s captaincy, Bayern Munich managed to win three consecutive European Championships from 1974 to 1976 and three Bundesliga titles. 

4. Francesco Totti

Totti spent his whole career at AS Roma (Courtesy: Sky Sports)

A captain’s stature is not only judged by the number of trophies won under his leadership. The role of a captain is given to a player that stands for loyalty and a good reputation. Francesco Totti spent all of his playing career at AS Roma. He played from 1993 to 2017 at the club and most of it as the club captain.

In fact, he led the team until his final appearance before retirement. The 2006 FIFA World Cup winner with Italy won one league title and two Italian Cups but racked up 784 appearances across all competitions with AS Roma. He is thus one of the greatest club captains in history.

3. Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini is regarded very highly and many consider him the best defender of all time. The Italian is a legend at AC Milan and won plenty of trophies during his playing days. He was one of the greatest and most successful club captains in Serie A history.

Maldini took over the captaincy from none other than Franco Baresi, who is yet another legend of the club. He was captain of the club for about 12 years and led the team to several silverware including the UEFA Champions League. 

2. Carles Puyol

Puyol won three Champins league titles with Barcelona (Courtesy: UEFA)

Carles Puyol was passionate, aggressive and a true leader who would go through walls for his teammates. The centre-back is one of the greatest Spanish players of all time and a club legend at FC Barcelona. Supporters of the club credit Puyol as much as other major stars like Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, etc, for their success over the years.

Under his captaincy, Barcelona managed to win several trophies and became one of the best teams in Europe. In fact, many regard Barcelona of the late 2000s and early 2010s as the best squad ever assembled. Three UCL titles and six La Liga trophies were some of the trophies Puyol won.

1. Roy Keane

Roy Keane deserves huge credit for making Manchester United the most successful English club. The ‘hot-headed’ midfielder was notorious for his aggressive nature on the field. Above all, he was a leader, a warrior who did not know how to give up. His rivalry with Arsenal captain Patrick Viera was popular back in the days. 

Roy Keane was not the most prolific goalscorer or the best passer of the ball. However, the Irishman was a leader who commanded the dressing room and the loyalty of his teammates. MUFC won multiple trophies under his leadership. Keane was the core around which MUFC’s winning sides were built. He captained the club to four PL titles and also led the team during the 1998-99 treble season where the outfit won the UCL and the FA Cup in addition to the league.

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