Who's our most inspirational ex-captain?

Friday 25 June 2021 16:26

Manchester United's official Twitter account sparked a debate on social media as to our greatest-ever captain and it got us wondering which of the candidates was the most inspirational?

Some led by example with their performances and professionalism, while others relied on charisma and character.

Your answer may depend on which eras you can recall and you cannot argue that we are spoiled for choice when you look at the men who wore the armband with such distinction.

Back in the early days, Charlie Roberts was a force to be reckoned with, making 312 appearances between 1905 and 1912. Frank Barson was a fearsome defender in the 1920s but names will become more familiar in the post-War period, starting with Irishman Johnny Carey, a bona-fide United legend.

Roger Byrne was the leader of the Busby Babes team before tragically losing his life in the Munich Air Disaster, with the captaincy being passed around in the 1960s. Iconic names such as Denis Law and Bobby Charlton took on the responsibility but quite whether they would be considered the best in that actual role, irrespective of their world-class abilities, is worth considering.

Certainly, Martin Buchan took on the role with authority, on and off the pitch, when replacing Willie Morgan and skippering the side between 1975 and 1982. For fans of a certain age, he is possibly the epitome of a United captain.

Similarly, it is impossible not to appreciate the impact Bryan Robson had on United after 'Captain Marvel' carried the fight for the Reds and England for so long. In addition to his midfield talents, he was a leader in every sense of the word and capable of motivating his colleagues when the going got tough.

After Robbo, Steve Bruce carried on the mantle magnificently, another warrior of a Geordie who commanded the utmost respect. Eric Cantona only had the armband for a shorter while but was inspirational as well as iconic, leading a young Reds side buoyed by the Class of 92, to the Double in 1995/96. The Frenchman gained plenty of support from the supporters in response to our Tweet.

Roy Keane then took over when the striker retired in 1997 and became the sort of snarling skipper that would strike fear into team-mates and opponents alike with his sheer will to compete - and win. He is certain to feature prominently in any such debate.

Dependable defender Gary Neville took on the captaincy as he went on to amass 602 appearances for his boyhood club and Nemanja Vidic may have said he never really wanted the armband but the Serbian was certainly tailor-made for it.  For those who like their skippers to be aggressive, the centre-back always ticked this box.

More recently, Wayne Rooney took the role very seriously and he received a flood of support on social media for his sterling efforts in this field. 

There are others who do deserve some recognition, including Noel Cantwell, but these may be the outstanding candidates for longevity and/or influence at a particular time. You can get involved on our Official App by voting for the most inspirational former United captain of the Premier League era, from our list of seven ex-skippers.

Hopefully, current captain Harry Maguire is well on the way to competing for this accolade!