Friday, June 9, 2023

Wales captain decision even more surprising than England’s

Graham Fisher in Editorial, European Championships 26 Mar 2011


Wales look to the future

We discussed the issue of the importance of the captaincy the other day in relation to England. However, if the re-appointment of John Terry as England captain was a little surprising, it pales in to insignificance against the decision of today’s opponents Wales.


Manager Gary Speed has handed the armband to twenty year old Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey. There is no doubting Ramsey’s talent and promise, but just what has he shown that suggests he should skipper the side?

Former Welsh stars were queuing up yesterday to question the wisdom of Gary Speed’s decision. Speaking to the BBC, the Wales skipper from the eighties and early nineties, Kevin Ratcliffe said,


“For somebody who hasn’t played a great deal of football at his club, I think he’s shown great faith in the lad. I would have thought there were better options within the squad, someone like Ashley Williams or James Collins.

“I know his qualities as a player, but is he a leader? For me at the moment he is very immature I think to be a captain. But Gary’s obviously had a good look at it. He sees the future of Welsh football in Aaron Ramsey.

“He’s going to be in the Welsh squad for a long time so maybe he’s looking to the future. I think that’s what Gary’s looking at. He’s looking at the next 10 years not just this game.”

Another former skipper, Chris Coleman, was equally surprised, but showed a little more understanding of the decision.


“Gary obviously sees a future captain there. I never expected it. I actually thought James Collins would have got it. He got it out in Ireland and is playing Premier League football week in, week out and is used to being in the thick of it.

“Gary was brave as a player and he’s been brave as a manager. As I understand Aaron’s a quiet lad, but a good captain is not necessarily a noisy one. They can lead within their play and they can carry other players around them and I’m sure Aaron Ramsey’s good enough to do that.

“He’s very brave. He’ll take the ball anywhere on the park whether he’s playing good, bad or indifferent. That shows courage and I’m sure the players around him will trust him and follow him.”

Ramsey will become the youngest ever captain of Wales and must surely be the, or one of the, least experienced. This will be his first international appearance since the horrific leg break he suffered back in February last year.


It will, in fact, be just his fifteenth game since that awful injury, having played five games and seven games on loan at Nottingham Forest and Cardiff respectively in the Championship and just one game for Arsenal.

Prior to the injury Ramsey had only played twenty-two first team games for Cardiff and fifty-one for Arsenal, as well as eleven appearances for Wales.

Gary Speed is very confident that he has made the right decision.


“He leads by example on and off the pitch and I think everyone looks up to him as well. I made the decision because I thought it was best for the team and Welsh football going forward. There have been young captains in the past. I think Cesc Fabregas was very young when he got captain of Arsenal, Tony Adams was also very young. Once I had stopped worrying about other factors, what people outside the team think, it was a no-brainer in the end.”

It is a brave decision and one that will be put under some scrutiny. I think I am fully supportive of the decision and can see that it makes sense as Speed looks to the future. It might be nice if Fabio Capello did the same occasionally.


Graham Fisher



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