“Play for the name on the front of the shirt and they’ll remember the name on the back”
Throughout the history of Arsenal the captain of the team is always a man to be remembered, their names are forever engraved in the minds of those that watched them play and those who played with them. Captains such as Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, Vic Groves and David O’Leary were all strong men who lead their team out on a weekly basis and instilled that attitude that enabled them to success and they had a deep love for the club that shined through.
The man that tops that greatest ever captain list is Mr Arsenal himself Tony Adams, every Gooner that was fortunate enough to have seen Adams play for Arsenal will have seen one of the best players we have ever had. He was the perfect captain, a strong dominant force who knew how to talk to his team mates and get the very best from each and every one of them. The youth looked up to him and his fellow men had the utmost respect for his vision on the pitch and that led to harmony within the team.
Coupled with great managers such as George Graham and Arsene Wenger Tony Adams thrived as a player and led the team to many a great trophy and remained as captain until the end of his career.
Have we ever had a captain since Adams that has matched him in the role or could rival him as the greatest?
Vieira was an absolutely phenomenal player, he was easily one of Wenger’s best ever signings and today Gooners still long for a Vieira type of player to join the team. He was tenacious and tough, his attitude is a big part of how he commanded the Arsenal team, he just didn’t take any nonsense and I’m pretty sure they were all scared of him too. Vieira oozed talent both as a player and a captain, he was the reason the football stayed so organised on the pitch and the tough games were the days you would see the best from Vieira.
As captain of the Invincibles team he deserved immense praise for that season, not many players could keep their team motivated and passionate for that long, he kept them level headed on the pitch and he was a vital part of the team that season. If Vieira had stayed longer at Arsenal he could have easily rivalled Adams as captain but he is the only one to have come close since.
Henry, Gallas and Fabregas were not in the armband long enough to make a real challenge for greatest ever captains and in recent years the choices have been weak in comparison. Arsenal have lacked that ‘captain’ player and Vieira is the closest they have got to replicating the reputation Adams left behind which is a shame because the Gunners are in dire need of that solid person they can count on for direction during a game when Wenger sits in the dugout for its entirety.
The recent choices in Vermaelen, Arteta and Mertesacker are below par when compared with Adams and Vieira and he should be assessing that issue with vigour as it could be the difference Arsenal need.
But for now Adams can be assured that he remains the greatest ever captain that we’ve had.
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