The role of the captain in modern day football

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It’s not what I thought it would be

I think many players actually struggle to realise how complex a job being a club captain is – until they become one themselves. I know I did and sometime continue to do so. For a number of years I was a senior figure in the dressing rooms of the clubs that I played at. Being a strong, opinionated person (to put it kindly) I would usually be asked to sit on player’s committees.

I have on occasions, when the captain has been injured or suspended, stepped in and temporally captained the side on match days. I thought it was as simple as that but full time. How wrong I was.

When I decided to join QPR I had no interest in becoming captain. Although I feel very honored to captain such a great football club as QPR, it just wasn’t my main concern. In terms of understanding the captain’s role, I had, up until that point, felt it was kind of irrelevant who the captain was and all that mattered was what happened on the pitch. Again, how wrong I was.

For me the role of captain in a modern day football club is vitally important. The captaincy brings with it enormous responsibly and an almost politicised role within a football club. It has certainly given me food for thought about what it takes to run a football club.

As captain you are the go between for the manager and the players on a daily basis. But there are times at football clubs when a captain’s role goes further. This has happened to me at QPR. There can be any number of issues that can cause board members or owners to ask a captain’s opinion. That can be anything from how to improve the club’s current training ground, sitting in with planners about new training facilities or discussing developments within the club’s academy.

It has been challenging for me at times in this new role. I had for a number of years been a good lieutenant to other captains and thought I had enough experience to handle the role comfortably. This theory was turned on its head. Mainly because most football clubs I had been at already were top-level in terms of infrastructure. This was not the case at QPR. QPR was and will continue to be for a while, a club in transition. The plans for this football club are big. But big takes a while to get right. New stadiums and new training grounds are built in a day.

But those sorts of major structural things weren’t at the top of my first list of requests to the board. What was? Six bathplugs for the player’s baths! Seriously. Up until that point the players had been bunging the plugholes with toilet paper in order to get a bath. As a direct consequence some players, Clint Hill for example, hadn’t bathed for 6 months. Dirty gits!

So how has my first year as a captain worked out? It’s been an up and down journey for me professionally and personally. No doubt for most of the QPR fans too. But I feel I’ve done justice to the role. It’s certainly a job that keeps you on your toes. Imagine trying to deal with 20 player’s egos on a daily basis and trying to give impartial feedback to the coaching staff. At times it can be like trying to herd wild horses. It’s challenging and it certainly makes life interesting. And I thoroughly enjoy it – especially now Clint Hill has started bathing again!

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3 comments
DiogoSoaresLoureiro
DiogoSoaresLoureiro

You just have the right personality to be QPR captain! The team will miss the time you´ll be out on loan

austinorton
austinorton

Very interesting to read as although I have followed football for years I never really thought what a captains role was like, so thanks for this insight. Wonder if Joey Barton would ever go into mangement?

kh7
kh7

from that im sensing that the role of captain is more about what you do off the field rather than what you do on it? am i right in thinking this? do you feel being captain but more pressure on you to perform on the pitch and consequently effected your performane? also, I was gutted when you left Newcastle haha