Captains are a typically big deal in football; a highly revered role in a sport that relishes reveling in its own history and traditions. Rarely found on the arm of the most talented player in the team, the captain’s armband is associated with different qualities; seniority, solidity, professionalism.
Therefore, while talent is often associated with the mercurial and volatile tendencies of attacking players, central midfielders and defenders more often espouse the virtues English football covet in their captains.
It is no surprise, then, that at Liverpool, the captain and vice-captain are both central midfielders of significant but unexceptional talent, as well as eye-catchingly English. Neither Jordan Henderson nor James Milner possess any sort of tangible footballing skill that is irreplaceable elsewhere in the squad, yet when picking captains, they both stand out as obvious alternatives.
There is an argument to made, however, that the most talented player in what is quickly becoming one of the most gifted Liverpool squads of all time, plies his trade in the heart of the Reds’ defense. Virgil van Dijk may not have a captains armband yet, but with 33-year old James Milner entering the final year of his contract and Jordan Henderson’s health and match fitness constant subjects of scrutiny, odds are short that the Dutchman will be doing a good deal of coin flips and team talks by the time next season rolls around.
In the meantime, the former Southampton man is doing fine being just a leader on the pitch, while pulling off captainly moves off it.
“When I saw Robbo was made captain of Scotland, I was very happy for him,” the 27-year old told the club’s official site. “I FaceTimed him and congratulated him!
“I think it’s one of the biggest honours of your career, personally, to be the captain of your country. It’s something special – not only for yourself, but also for your family – and the hard work you’ve put in since day one. It’s very special.”
Liverpool’s record signing is, of course, the current captain of the Dutch national team, and wore the armband for Southampton before the events of last summer, so it makes sense that he would be in the mix at Anfield as well, especially as he enters his prime playing years. Regardless of the armband situations, though, van Dijk will continue to display the sort of leadership he has embodied both on and off the pitch, hopefully to glory and silverware.