There are a lot of congratulatory tweets and articles floating about the place for Harry Kane after it was confirmed he would be burdened with the weight of an eternally overly-optimistic nation on his arm.
While many picture Bobby Moore when ‘England captain’ is whispered in your local newsagents on a Saturday morning, the 24-year-old is more likely going to resemble Scott Parker in that exceptionally awkward post-Capello defeat to the Netherlands in 2012.
Kane’s an out-and-out goalscorer and probably England’s best hope this summer, but he likely could have done without the extra baggage. He took 184 shots in the Premier League this season. Only Luis Suarez had more in a single Premier League season since the turn of the century. Now, imagine what he’ll be like when he has to actively try and produce instead of just casually letting his brilliance do the work.
Here are five better candidates for the captaincy.
Sometimes it’s hard for players to fully appreciate the Englishness of their own football league because it’s become little more than a global franchise. Winning the Premier League seems like a worldwide gong these days – something you don’t see in Serie A, where Italian champions are immortally enshrined in the zeitgeist of Italian subculture. That can transform itself into national pride – the kind of which we’ve seen on so many occasions.
Therefore, it’s rare to see an English footballer relate his profession to his country. Wilshere’s very public criticism of his exclusion obviously wasn’t an opportunity to have him reinstated into the setup, but it’s a good indication that it actually matters to him. He’s a box-to-box midfielder whose game is based around energy, and when your captain is that involved in the game, you have no hiding place.
John Stones passed the ball more per ninety minutes than any other player in England last season. He was a calming presence for City and contributed to a record-breaking season on so many fronts. The 23-year-old played in big games – far more big games than the vast majority of the England squad – and therefore should be near the top of any captaincy shortlist.
Also, he’s from Barnsley. Nothing quite says ‘good ‘ol England’ like a Yorkshireman kicking f*ck out of half the world during a summer holiday, does it?
This one’s for all the Brexit boys. All about the balance. Has there ever been a man more suited to represent the grimy, separatist nature of Engerland than big Hazza?
The answer is yes – John Terry. But unfortunately for JT, he’s currently wasting away in Birmingham – aged 54.
Maguire will ensure England don’t forfeit any more of their God-given rights to the continent and ride on horseback, à la Richard the Lionheart, with the World Cup trophy, back to Britannia where it shall stay forever and ever.
Look, if you’re thinking about this logically for a second, England’s striker(s) will be so far detached from the action for any big game they play in Russia, that his influence will be minimal anyway. So, why not hand the armband to the man who has captained Liverpool during some huge upsets this season instead?
He’s a success story from bloody Sunderland – if anyone epitomised a rags-to-riches story that these tournaments love so dearly, it’s Jordan Henderson.
Let’s be honest – he should be in the squad and he probably wants to be in the squad, too. There’s every chance a phonecall would suffice in changing his mind and his big-game experience would be crucial, even if he isn’t starting.
Rooney’s comfortably England’s best footballing talent this generation and moments of magic may come more slowly to him these days, but they do come to him – more so than the majority of players in this squad who are just functional pieces at club level.