I've watched a lot of EPL matches lately, and I've realized how awkwardly the captains are chosen. The captains sometimes don't have many key qualities, or assist their team much.

What criteria make a player more worthy of being captain than others?

Here are some criteria I considered, and their exceptions:


West Ham's captain is Mark Noble who is a stranger to neutral fans compared to Dimitri Payet.

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson is injury-prone, and with an FPL score of 7, might as well be another benchwarmer.


Manchester City selected Vincent Kompany, a central defender who rarely moves up the pitch, as their captain.

Arsenal has Per Mertesacker, also a central defender, as their captain. Being the slowest on the team makes him an unlikely playmaker. The previous captain, Mikel Arteta, played as a defensive midfielder, which is slightly more reasonable for the position criteria.

Communication / Chemistry

Manchester City's Yaya Touré is one of few professional soccer players from Côte d'Ivoire. Based on KSI's gameplay video with him, it can be said that his English is not perfect.

Tottenham Hotspur has their goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, as their captain, despite being the only French player on the team.

Are there any specific properties that make a player more suitable as captain?

  • I think there are no objective criteria, but FingeNB reply sounds the most rapresentative possible one
    – Ale
    Nov 11, 2015 at 8:55
  • 1
    I don't think there's a set rule. Last season, FC Barcelona's squad held a vote amongst themselves, and chose Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, and Busquets, in that order. They're not alone in holding locker room elections, but they're definitely not in the majority, either.
    – daOnlyBG
    Nov 11, 2015 at 20:41
  • What made you think they were "awkwardly" chosen? Most captains are key players for the team to say the least.
    – xji
    Nov 18, 2015 at 2:19
  • Dimitri Payet, popular, and West Ham in a sentence.... how the world has changed Feb 24, 2017 at 6:13
  • I assume by "BPL" you mean "Barclays Premier League" (now the English Premier League/EPL)?
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 21, 2020 at 18:55

2 Answers 2


The captain is usually picked by the manager, and it's up to him to decide based on what he thinks is best for the team. There is a lot of different reasons for choosing a captain, all based on different managers preferences. Some reason might be these (not a complete list):

  1. Experience
  2. Age
  3. Leadership abilities
  4. Position
  5. Influence on others
  6. Tactical knowledge
  7. Good relations with the manager
  8. Fighting spirit
  9. How well a player is liked by the rest of the team
  10. Pleasing the ego of a star
  11. Years played in the team
  • "The captain is usually picked by the manager." What are the exceptions?
    – unbindall
    Nov 11, 2015 at 18:21
  • 1
    In some cases the team gets to vote to select the team captain. But then it is the manager that have decided that the team should do it.
    – FingeNB
    Nov 11, 2015 at 18:40

Captaincy can be considered as a symbolic responsibility. Technically on the pitch, he's just another player who's subject to the rules. But there are some unwritten rules that he's also subject to.

He is expected to calm his mates when they get unnecessarily aggressive on the field. He's supposed to take care of his team's diplomacy (The ceremony at the beginning of the games is an example)

Also, it is said that captain is the player that other ten look at when things get out of their hands.

So it can be told that there are multiple factors about how a captain is selected. How long is he a part of his team? How's his relations with his mates, coach, opponent players, referees and fans? Is he respected and respectful? Can he act correctly when others can't? List goes on and on. The player that manager believes he suits the parameters the best, gets the captaincy.

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