Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast: Premier League captains

Any great Premier League team needs a great captain, and there have been several legendary players to wear the armband over the years – but who is the greatest?

That was the subject discussed by Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright on the new Match of The Day: Top 10 podcast.

Taking themselves out of the studio, the series will be recorded in Lineker’s kitchen and, inspired by the much-debated MOTD television running order, the ex-players will be getting into deep discussion to produce a top 10 on a variety of topics.

First up, the trio ranked the top 10 Premier League captains from a shortlist drawn up by the BBC Match of the Day commentary team.

To hear their final selections, make sure you listen to the podcast on BBC Sounds. And you can make your own ranked list at the bottom of the page.

  • Listen to the first episode of Match of the Day: Top 10

Tony Adams

Tony Adams celebrating scoring a goal for Arsenal
Tony Adams spent his entire career at Arsenal, winning 13 major trophies between 1983 and 2002

Premier League appearances: 255

Goals: 12

Clubs: Arsenal

Premier League titles: Two

Wright: “No matter what he was going through personally, he came in every day and was always the leader, the captain, ready to go. He led by example, he looked you in the eye and told you exactly what he wanted from you. He would tell you home truths. He was a proper leader.”

Shearer: “He was the best centre-half I played against in the English game. A great leader and organiser. That back four that he played in was relentless and incredibly tough to play against.”

Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard celebrating a goal for Liverpool
Steven Gerrard is the only footballer to score in an FA Cup final, a League Cup final, a Uefa Cup final and a Champions League final, winning on each occasion

Premier League appearances: 504

Goals: 120

Clubs: Liverpool

Premier League titles: None

Shearer: “Look at his appearances, more than 500 in the Premier League, and what he gave to that football club and what that football club meant to him. He did it every year, week in, week out.”

Wright: “What he did in the Champions League final [in 2005] was a fantastic achievement, one of the greatest I’ve seen.”

Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson holding his hands above his head, saluting the Liverpool fans
Jordan Henderson lifted the Champions League, the Uefa Super Cup and Club World Cup in 2019

Premier League appearances: 335

Goals: 29

Clubs: Sunderland, Liverpool

Premier League titles: None – although Liverpool are runaway leaders in the 2019-20 season

Lineker: “He’s had to step into the shoes of Steven Gerrard, who is one of the greatest English players of all time. He’s come in, they’ve won the Champions League, they are inevitably going to win the Premier League. He’s done an unbelievable job.”

Roy Keane

Roy Keane playing for Manchester United
Roy Keane won 17 trophies at Manchester United, including the treble in 1999

Premier League appearances: 366

Goals: 39

Clubs: Nottingham Forest, Manchester United

Premier League titles: Seven

Wright: “I loved Roy Keane. He was captain for so many years when Manchester United were absolutely dominating. He is exactly what you need as a captain. He wasn’t someone everybody liked, but you don’t need to like the captain. He led – and what it means on the pitch is what it is all about.”

Shearer: “I had loads of rucks with him and I wasn’t the only one. But he was a brilliant player.”

Vincent Kompany

Vincent Kompany lifting the Premier League trophy in 2012
Vincent Kompany left Manchester City in May 2019 after 11 seasons at Etihad Stadium

Premier League appearances: 265

Goals: 18

Clubs: Manchester City

Premier League titles: Four

Shearer: “He was an excellent player and a leader. He started in midfield, went back to centre-half and delivered titles. He was huge with the fans, he got it in terms of what the club was about.”

Lineker: “A captain has to be there at the big moments and there is no captain who was there for the big moments more than Vincent Kompany. Remember the goals he scored against Manchester United in 2012 and Leicester last season? Big-time – big moments and a big leader.”

Wes Morgan

Wes Morgan kissing the Premier League trophy
Wes Morgan became the third outfield player in Premier League history to play every minute of a title-winning season in 2015-16

Premier League appearances: 164

Goals: 8

Clubs: Leicester

Premier League titles: One

Wright: “With the team he had and the way Leicester did it, it is the miracle of the Premier League. He had to keep them going through that season. One of my favourite moments was when Wes was about to lift the Premier League trophy, his eyes closed and it was magic, a moment of fulfilment.”

Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer celebrating scoring a goal for Newcastle
Alan Shearer is the Premier League’s record goalscorer with 260 goals in 441 appearances

Premier League appearances: 441

Goals: 260

Clubs: Blackburn, Newcastle

Premier League titles: One

Lineker: “The only reason you’re on the list is because it is the only topic where we can get you in at the bottom.”

John Terry

John Terry lifting the Premier League trophy
John Terry is Chelsea’s most successful captain, winning 17 trophies including five Premier League titles

Premier League appearances: 492

Goals: 41

Clubs: Chelsea

Premier League titles: Five

Shearer: “He was everything you wanted in a captain. He had the respect of managers, fans and players. He wasn’t liked by other fans, but it didn’t affect him – it probably spurred him on if anything, and he delivered.”

Nemanja Vidic

Nemanja Vidic waving to the Manchester United fans
Nemanja Vidic won five Premier League titles at Manchester United, two of them as captain

Premier League appearances: 211

Goals: 15

Clubs: Manchester United

Premier League titles: Five

Shearer: “He was hard as they come. I can’t argue with what he delivered. A fantastic player and captain.”

Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira playing for Arsenal against Manchester United
Patrick Vieira captained Arsenal during their ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003-04 when they went the entire Premier League season unbeaten

Premier League appearances: 307

Goals: 31

Clubs: Arsenal, Manchester City

Premier League titles: Three

Shearer: “Vieira was horrible to play against, in a nice way. He could play if he wanted to play, but if you wanted to have a fight or be physical with him, he was as hard as they come.”