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Gary Cahill - From being written off to becoming Conte's Captain

Monday 23rd January 2017
When you mention the name Gary Cahill, you automatically think household named football player, regular for the England National side as well as being Captain, and a regular and current Captain of League leaders Chelsea FC.
So why is it then, that the same player has received so much criticism from so many football pundits, the media and even his own Clubs supporters? It strikes me as a real footballing mystery, I feel that we are seeing a hugely underrated player here.

Some of the apparent flaws being spoken about are the Defender's decision making and positioning. I cannot disagree with those two points, he has often struggled with the two of those, but since when has any Defender ever been perfect?

Last season Cahill had one of his worse runs of form since being a professional footballer and even I'd admit that, but as did the whole Chelsea team lets be honest here. All players go through a dip in form and Cahill was one of those, and he ended up being unfairly scapegoated by many.

Cahill has quite often been known to dwell on the ball sometimes and lose possession. But this is such a difficult problem when the modern day Defender is expected to also be a ball player and be comfortable receiving the ball in tight spots. As the last man, when you lose the ball it is noticed a lot more than a Midfielder losing it.

In terms of a solid out and out old fashioned Defender who is going to always put in 100% and put his life on the line for his Club, you won't find many better than Gary Cahill. He has the same desire, heart and passion as his Club Captain John Terry and plays a similar style. He is decent on the ball, excellent at tackling and great in the air, as well as having leadership qualities and doesn't lack pace for a strong Centre Back.

Add to that he is the type of player who will always gain you points, whether it's making a last-ditch block in the final minutes of a game to hold onto a 1-0 win, or at the other end (Cahill scored for Chelsea in Sunday's 2-0 win over Hull City), scoring a vital header to take all three points, Gary Cahill is essential to Chelsea and a real unsung hero.

He has come so far in one year, from a forgettable season last term, to becoming a dead cert starter and current Captain in Terry's absence to Antonio Conte's table-topping Chelsea, it really is some achievement for the player who was written off by so many.

He has adapted to Conte's three at the back as a left sided Centre Back and has even got so used to that role and where he needs to be on the pitch now, he's squashed his positioning problems.
I believe that Conte has full faith in his Captain and rates him highly. Let's face it, right now he is keeping other good defenders and options on the bench such as Terry, Kurt Zouma and Branislav Ivanovic and has cemented down his rightful and deserved slot in the back three.

Personally, I love watching Cahill play. In a day and age when there is so much money, ego's and attitudes floating around in football, it's so refreshing to see a player who plays for enjoyment, love of the game and for his Club - who he undoubtedly loves representing and putting on that Captain's armband for.

For me, he is turning into a real leader, you can see him always talking, coaching and encouraging other defenders and he celebrates every goal like his team has just won the League, it's fully admirable to see and long may it continue, Captain Cahill.
Simon Phillips
Football Writer for the last 7 years, specialising in the English Premier League and covering a wide range of topics.

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