The captain is the most important and influential member of any team. It is a demanding role which requires plenty of decision making, experience and leadership, either vocally or by setting an example, in order to rally the team when things go against them on the pitch.
In a nutshell, the captain acts as the manager, but on the pitch and during the action. Some of the most successful captains in football are a direct result of long-time and unshaken loyalty and commitment to their respective clubs and the fans.
Scroll through to find four such club captains who wore the armband for the longest spells.
4. Tony Adams - Arsenal (14 years)
A club legend at Arsenal, former England defender Tony Adams wore the captain’s armband for 14 long years in his 22 years at the club. Gifted with impeccable leadership skills, Adams was given the role at an early age of 21, which he dutifully fulfilled before retiring in 2002.
He, along with Lee Dixon, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn were partners in a formidable Arsenal defence responsible for four league titles and several other domestic silverware.
With a career spanning over three decades, Adams played over 500 games for the London based club where he also started out as a teenager.
As a token of the club’s appreciation for his commendable service, Arsenal built his statue outside their stadium, which was unveiled in 2011, joining fellow legends Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Herbert Chapman in being immortalised by the Gunners.
3. Paolo Maldini - AC Milan (12 years)
One of the greatest defenders ever to grace the pitch, former Italy and AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini spent every season of his 25-year career with the Rossoneri, wearing the captain’s armband in 15 of them.
Known for unique defensive, man-marking skills and leadership qualities, Maldini guided the Milan outfit to two Serie A titles, several domestic titles and two Champions League titles, although he had won three more before he assumed the role in 1997.
In addition to his excellence in defence, Maldini also played an important role in dragging Milan back to glory days after an exodus of great players in the late 90s led to poor performances in the domestic and European circuit.
Paolo earned the nickname ‘Il Capitano’ (the Captain) as a symbol of the fans’ admiration for his services and unwavering loyalty. After playing his last game aged 41 in 2009, Milan partially retired his number ‘3’ jersey, only to be issued to either of his two sons, provided they play for the Milan senior side in future.
2. Franco Baresi - AC Milan (15 years)
Before Paolo Maldini established his legacy at AC Milan, it was fellow Italian defender Marco Baresi who won the hearts of the fans. Also counted among the greatest defenders like Maldini, he started out as a youth player for the Rossoneri and ended up spending the entirety of a 20-year career at the same club.
Aged just 22 in 1982, Baresi took over as captain and guided Milan to six Serie A titles, four domestic cups and three European cups over the next 15 years. After retiring in 1997, Baresi passed the baton on to Maldini and the club officially retired his number 6 shirt as a sign of gratitude for his leadership.
1. Francesco Totti - AS Roma (19 years)
Former Italy player Francesco Totti is worshiped by Giallorossi fans, and fondly called ‘Il Re di Roma’ (the King of Rome).
One of the sport’s most influential scorers and playmakers, Totti is a one-club man in every sense of the word, having declined many transfer offers throughout his 25-year career to be ever-present for the club closest to his heart, despite the fact that his talent clearly outweighed a club like Roma.
Totti rose through the ranks at Roma and was made captain at the age of 21 and continued to lead them until his recent retirement at the age of 40. Even though he was sporadically used in his last seasons, he always wore the armband whenever he took to the pitch.
Totti is also the club’s most successful captain and holds the record for the club’s top goalscorer and the most appearances overall. With him wearing the armband, Roma won the Serie A title in 2000.