It takes a truly exceptional team to win the Premier League title. And at the heart of that team there is unfailingly a great leader.
Captains take on all manner of responsibility when they pull on the armband, both on and off the field.
They have to be ambassadors for their clubs, leaders in an organisational and motivational sense, lead by example and dole out discipline.
But who is the finest captain to have won the Premier League?
Former England, Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham star Joe Cole had his say last week. ‘John Terry was the best captain,’ Cole told BT Sport. ‘His attention to detail on and off the pitch, he led from the front and demanded standards. I would say he is the best Premier League captain ever.’
There are, however, other standout candidates for the title, so we asked our reporters to choose their favourite skipper.
Vincent Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy as Man City celebrate the title in 2018-2019
MATT BARLOW – ROY KEANE
Manchester United’s rise to power during the early years of the Premier League was forged around Keane’s aggression and competitive edge.
He was a leader on the pitch in a classic sense, first into the fight and still giving everything when the cause appeared to be lost.
Of course with Sir Alex Ferguson, a brilliant manager, in charge and many gifted players around him.
Manchester United captain Roy Keane celebrates winning the last of his seven titles in 2003
DOMINIC KING – ROY KEANE
There will be some who read this that simply see Keane as an opinionated pundit but it should not be forgotten what a magnificent footballer he was – and an inspirational leader.
During the time he had the armband, United seemed to win something every season but he gets my selection as he was skipper when United did the clean sweep of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.
He might not have played in the 1999 final against Bayern Munich due to suspension but his performance in the semi-final against Juventus was the reason they reached the Nou Camp.
If you captain a team that completes the Treble, there is not a lot more you can do. For that reason, he is the pre-eminent title-winning captain.
Keane was exceptional against Juventus in 1999 despite knowing he would miss the final
JOE BERNSTEIN – JOHN TERRY
The dominant figure in the great Manchester United and Arsenal teams were the managers but at Chelsea the players had to organise themselves as Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luis Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo, Rafa Benitez, Mourinho again and Antonio Conte went through the revolving door.
Yet the dressing-room remained strong and won trophies; Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Petr Cech… with JT the undisputed leader of the gang.
John Terry won the Premier League five times with Chelsea as captain between 2005 and 2017
JACK GAUGHAN – ROY KEANE
The testimonies of those who starred under him are enough for Keane to sit top of this list. Not always liked but forever revered. Four Premier League titles as captain puts him second only to John Terry at Chelsea.
He instilled a winning mentality at Manchester United and was a far better midfield technician than he is often given credit for.
TOM COLLOMOSSE – WES MORGAN
Leicester’s title win in 2016 was one of the greatest football stories ever told and may never be repeated.
It was no easy task to maintain the focus and spirit of a group of players who never expected to find themselves in that position, but Morgan did it flawlessly.
It is no surprise that, even though he has rarely played in recent times, Morgan is still a key member of the player leadership group created by Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers.
Wes Morgan was captain when Leicester won their miraculous title back in 2016
IAN HERBERT – VINCENT KOMPANY
Manchester City’s climb to the title was never easy, with agents trying to fleece them as they accelerated their spend to reach football’s top table, and the sniggering about them as the so-called nouveau-riche club.
Kompany’s dignity and style helped them stand above all that. He always spoke well and led well. City’s was a constantly evolving group of players who did not find Roberto Mancini, who took them to their first PL title, the easiest to work with.
The technical level of his football was superb, despite the struggles with injury, which earned him the nickname ‘the glass man’ back in Belgium. Class.
Vincent Kompany holds the Premier League trophy after Man City’s dramatic triumph in 2012
DANIEL MATTHEWS – VINCENT KOMPANY
Better players than Vincent Kompany have captained teams to Premier League titles.
His mistakes and missteps are too often overlooked. But he was nevertheless a galvanising force, who led Manchester City to 10 trophies and developed a knack for delivering when it mattered – remember that header against United or that long-range strike against Leicester?
And in an age when football carries such social power there have been few better leaders.
An articulate, considered speaker, Kompany has been a driving force for good in Manchester – for example, alongside mayor Andy Burnham, his Tackle4MCR initiative is harnessing the power of sport to tackle homelessness.
ADRIAN KAJUMBA – ROY KEANE
Seven Premier League titles in total, four while he was captain and the most successful skipper in Manchester United history.
Ruled on and off the field, inspiring others with his sheer force of personality as much as his performances.
Arrived at Manchester United in 1993 as the best box-to-box midfielder in the country, in an era when midfielders did everything, and over time transitioned into more of a disciplined dictator from deep.
Brilliantly effective in both roles, Keane stood out firstly for his all-action style and rampaging runs from deep before his piercing, precise passing and reading of the game really came to the fore.
His influence and ability to drag his team-mates along with him, though, was just as important. Defeat was not an option.
Demanded the absolute highest standards and, crucially, he set them himself, leaving his team-mates no option other than to try and raise their level and go along with him. Fearsome and fearless, Keane’s approach rubbed some people up the wrong way but winning was his game and he did plenty of it because of both his attitude and ability.
Keane (left) demanded the highest of standards and was inspiring to those players around him