You may probably have seen a goalkeeper wearing the captain’s armband on various occasions.
You may be curious as to why a manager could choose a goalkeeper to be a captain, despite their supposedly limited role!
We have seen the likes of Manuel Neuer, Jan Oblak, Hugo Lloris, and Iker Casillas serve as captains for their teams.
Here’s what you need to know:
Why are goalkeepers usually captains in football?
Managers appoint a player to be a captain based on certain factors like leadership skills, communication and cool-headedness. Many of these can be easily associated with goalkeepers, making it easy to select them as team captains. Here are some reasons why goalkeepers are usually made captains by their managers/coaches:
Good leadership skills
Naturally, goalkeepers make good leaders because their role requires them to be leaders. Goalkeepers are typically required to keep the players in front of them in check, especially in defensive situations.
They serve to direct, control and organise their players to take up the best possible positions to allow them to thwart opposition attacks.
This means they usually issue commands to their teammates. Many managers decide to make goalkeepers a captain because they are good leaders on the pitch.
Being a good leader may be why some goalkeepers still wear the number 1 shirt.
Just as goalkeepers have good leadership skills, their ability to communicate effectively is another factor that sets them apart as good captains. They are usually in constant communication with players around them in order to take advantage of their position on the pitch to direct those players.
Communication is vital for a captain as he must be vocal and always willing to give instructions whenever a teammate is caught slacking.
This was the case with Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga that warranted the club signing Edouard Mendy.
Moreover, it is an unwritten requirement that a goalkeeper is able to command his defenders, thus, making them perfect candidates for captaincy.
Position on the pitch
Goalkeepers have the best view of the pitch, given that the entire game unfolds in front of them.
This allows them to correctly advise their teammates on the appropriate positions they need to take upon the pitch. Moreover, their position on the pitch permits them to dictate what direction their teammates should move to gain an advantage.
When an opposition player has a direct freekick; the goalkeeper is able to position his wall in the most advantageous position for his team. This is because he faces the kick directly and has a vantage position when compared to other players on the pitch.
Sometimes, he may ask a player to lie behind the freekick wall to block an under-the-wall shot!
Using this example, it is easy to understand why a goalkeeper’s position makes him a good choice for captaincy.
However, there may still be times when a goalkeeper may be caught off guard and may seem to just stand still.
Longevity and experience
In many teams, the goalkeeper is usually the most experienced player and has spent the longest time in the team. This allows them to be in the best position to command the respect of their teammates, manager and opposition due to the wealth of experience they must have gained in their career.
Part of this longevity is because goalkeepers do not have to expend stamina jockeying for the ball due to their roles. As a result, it means they can maintain their fitness for longer periods.
A goalkeepers’ ability to remain injury-free is another thing that gives them an edge over players in other positions. The lack of regular physical contact with outfield players also works in their favour as they can play without injuries.
Most times, goalkeepers play until well into their late 30s, an indicator of their longevity. For example, Italy and Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon signed a new contract with boyhood club Parma in February 2022, allowing him to remain at the club until he is 46 years old.
It is very rare to see outfield players last this long in their careers.
Ability to coach on the pitch
When the ball is on the other side of the pitch, goalkeepers do not have much to do. This allows them to have sufficient time to think about how best to help their team.
There may be times when they can go outfield, which may even result in a goal!
As a captain, you are basically the coach of the team, during the match, as the manager cannot join them on the pitch.
Goalkeepers can play this role because they have enough space and time to consider what to do and how to direct their players on the pitch.
In addition, a goalkeepers’ ability to function in this capacity makes them popular choices to serve as captains, justifying the choice of many coaches who choose them as their captains.
Goalkeepers are usually far from the action and bustle of the pitch. They hardly have contact with outfield players, allowing them to be the calmest players on the pitch.
Being calm helps them make the best decisions for their team, making them perfect candidates for captaincy.
However, there may be times when they may make a rash decision, where they may get sent off for a handball offence.
Famous examples of goalkeepers who are captains
Here are some goalkeepers who have been captains for their team:
1. Manuel Neuer
Germany and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is the captain for both the German club and the German National Team at the moment. The experienced goalkeeper won the UEFA Champions League as captain in 2020.
Neuer has carved out a niche for himself as one of the best ever captains among goalkeepers in world football.
2. Hugo Lloris
France and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is the captain for both his club and the French national team. While he has not tasted a great deal of success at the club level, his success at the national team level cannot be denied.
Lloris captained the French national team in 2018 as they were crowned world champions in Russia after beating Croatia 4-2 to win the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
3. Iker Casillas
Iker Casillas is one of the most successful goalkeeper captains in football history. The Spaniard became Real Madrid captain in 2010 and led the Spanish national team to FIFA World Cup glory in 2010 in South Africa as captain.
This was in addition to his successes as captain in Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 with the national team.
4. Peter Schmeichel
Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel captained the Red Devils in their greatest moment in 1999. The Danish goalkeeper was handed the captain’s armband for the UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich after regular captain Roy Keane was suspended.
He inspired the Red Devils to a 2-1 win in the game as they claimed a treble in that season. His son, Kasper, has taken after him at goalkeeping.
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5. Kasper Schmeichel
Like his father, Kasper Schmeichel has become an icon of the Premier League.
The Danish international goalkeeper is Leicester City’s captain, and he led the side to win their first-ever FA Cup in 2021. He also led the side to win the FA Community Shield in the same year.
You can find out what is the FA Community Shield in this guide.
Other notable examples of goalkeepers who have been captains include Oliver Kahn, Gianpiero Conbi, Dino Zoff, Gianluigi Buffon, Peter Shilton, and Lev Yashin.
Any player on the team can be a captain, including goalkeepers, defenders or even strikers.
Goalkeepers have been known right from time to be adept at leading their teams from the back. Their leadership qualities are usually essential in helping their teams to achieve their goals.
When a goalkeeper is a captain, they will be the first to walk out to the pitch, instead of being the second player!
Here is a summary of why goalkeepers are usually made captains:
|Factors that make |
|Ability to coach on the pitch|
Calmness and cool-headedness
Position on the pitch
Good leadership skills
Longevity and experience
|Famous examples of |
goalkeepers that are captains
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