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Why Jordan Henderson, not Harry Kane, should captain England

Monday 28th May 2018

This is not an advisory article for Gareth Southgate. It's too late for that. On Tuesday, the 47-year-old made public his decision of who will wear England's armband at the World Cup. 

Even without skippering the Three Lions, Harry Kane was expected to play a huge role in Russia. Considering the weight already on his shoulders, is it wise to pile further responsibility on the young striker?

At 24, Kane will become England’s youngest ever World Cup captain since 25-year-old Bobby Moore led his country to a successful 1966 campaign. It’s an astounding achievement for the Tottenham Hotspur frontman.

One can only imagine how elated Kane must’ve felt on hearing the news. Spurs fans nodded approvingly, including player-turned-presenter Gary Lineker. Southgate's decision, however, has left the Three Lions sitting on gunpowder.  

The captain's job requires mental strength, maturity and experience. A skipper must be a leader both on and off the pitch. It's their role to rally teammates, dish out instructions and give dressing room pep talks. 

Kane fails to tick all those boxes. Watching his demeanour on camera is all the evidence needed.   

Hugo Lloris captains Tottenham, not Kane. The striker is focused on scoring goals. Which is more important? Mauricio Pochettino believes the latter. Southgate should too. 

A skipper should put his team first. Kane's selfishness was called out last month. He appealed to the FA after a goal against Stoke City was initially awarded to Christian Eriksen. A striker obsessed with scoring will sacrifice anything. Including a teammates happiness. 

A captain must become the team's mouthpiece. They have to say the correct things to alleviate the pressure. Last week, Kane asserted that England can win this summer's World Cup. It was a bad move. One which brings about unrealistic expectations.

Southgate, however, is adamant he made the right decision.

He (Kane) has belief and high standards and it is a great message for the team to have a captain who has shown that it is possible to be one of the best in the world over a consistent period of time.

According to Southgate, Kane was made skipper as he is England's best player. No one would argue that the striker is Tottenham's most talented player, too. Why, then, doesn't he captain the North London side?

It's simple. Not being weighed down by the added responsibility enables Kane to concentrate on terrorising the opposition.   

Although Kane is the England captain, Jordan Henderson will be the most vocal player. Particularly away from the cameras in Russia. The Liverpool midfielder has shown astute leadership qualities throughout his career. 

Even in matches where Kane wore the armband, Henderson offered guidance and encouragement to his Three Lions teammates.

Spurs' Eric Dier was also in the running for England's captaincy, but his influence can't match Henderson's. Had Chelsea's Gary Cahill enjoyed a better season, he too would have got a mention. The 32-year-old will just be pleased with a place in the squad.  

Henderson has led Liverpool's charges exceptionally during this campaign. He captained the Reds in Kyiv's Champions League final on Saturday night. The 27-year-old can be relied on to go the extra mile. If he's good enough to lead England behind the scenes, he's good enough to wear the armband.

Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.


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